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Vladimir Putin Says Whoever Leads in Artificial Intelligence Will Rule the World

September 4, 2017, 11:30 AM UTC

Russian President Vladimir Putin has declared that the control of artificial intelligence will be crucial to global power.

In a “science lesson” to start off the Russian school year, Putin reportedly said that artificial intelligence is “the future, not only for Russia, but for all humankind.”

“It comes with colossal opportunities, but also threats that are difficult to predict,” Putin said Friday, as quoted by the state-funded media organization RT. “Whoever becomes the leader in this sphere will become the ruler of the world.”

While some more excitable outlets have reported this as Putin saying Russia will use AI to take over the world, that’s not quite what he said. Rather, according to the Associated Press‘s English-language translation, Putin argued that “it would be strongly undesirable if someone wins a monopolist position.”

“If we become leaders in this area, we will share this know-how with [the] entire world, the same way we share our nuclear technologies today,” Putin said, per RT.

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Putin’s warning about AI monopolization was in line with the fears of academics such as Nick Bostrom and certain technologists such as Elon Musk, who worry that the transition between today’s proto-AI technologies and a true AI superintelligence may take place so quickly, with the intelligence’s subsequent development being so rapid, that competing research efforts will be left in the dust.

This would put an inordinate amount of power in the hands of whoever developed the leading AI, or—in the “Terminator” scenario—in the hands of the AI itself.

According to the AP report, Putin also predicted that countries would fight future wars with drones, with the victor being determined by drone supremacy.