Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk answers questions from Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval during the National Governors Association Summer Meeting in Providence, Rhode Island, U.S., July 15, 2017. REUTERS/Brian Snyder - RTX3BLPD
Brian Snyder — Reuters
By Kirsten Korosec
August 4, 2017

SpaceX and Tesla CEO Elon Musk has added a dose of pragmatism to his typically dire thoughts about the risks of artificial intelligence to humankind.

The billionaire’s views on the risks of artificial intelligence are well-documented over here at Fortune and elsewhere. But last month when he described artificial intelligence as “the greatest risk we face as a civilization” at the National Governor’s Association, the reaction sparked criticism from Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg as well as other tech magnates and roboticists.

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Musk fired back via Twitter describing the Zuckerberg’s understanding of the subject as “limited” in a terse tweet.

During Tesla’s earnings call on Wednesday, Musk tried to dial things back a bit and explain what he believes is the government’s role and responsibility.

Here are his entire comments about AI:

It’s just something that I think, anything that represents—that is a risk to the public deserves at least insight from the government because one of the mandates of the government is the public well-being. And that insight is different from oversight, so at least the government should have insight to understand what’s going on, and then decide what rules are appropriate to ensure public safety.

That is what I’m advocating for. I’m not advocating for that we stop the development of AI, or any of the sort of straw man, hyperbole things that have been written. I do think there are great benefits to AI. We just need to make sure that they’re indeed benefits, and we don’t do something really dumb.

No word on how Musk will encourage government to take up this charge. Perhaps the governors who heard him speak have already been prompted to take action.


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