Tech Transformers

Elon Musk’s idea of merging machines with humans is ‘alarmist’, CEO of top A.I. firm says

We've built one of the first AI-based trading systems: Sentient
We've built one of the first AI-based trading systems: Sentient

Talk of mass job losses and the need to give humans a computer layer in their brain as a result of artificial intelligence (AI), an idea put forward by billionaire Elon Musk, are "alarmist" and distract from the good being done by the technology, a top start-up CEO told CNBC on Thursday.

Major warnings have been issued by technologists about the impact of AI on society in the next few years. For example, Alibaba founder Jack Ma said society could face decades of "pain" from the result of automation, while Musk has started a company called Neuralink to research the development of human-machine interfaces.

Babak Hodjat, the CEO of Sentient Technologies, one of the world's highest-funded AI start-ups, however, said that such developments were still in the realm of science fiction and in fact are distracting companies from developing world-changing solutions.

"We are nowhere near that on the technology side, and it's distracting to the fact that AI today can help the world in so many places, and the discourse is being taken over by folks that are alarmists, around something that might happen in 100 years, 150 years," Hodjat told CNBC during an interview at the Pioneers tech show in Vienna on Thursday.

"This can help us find the cure to cancer or solve world hunger, and I'm not joking. These are the types of projects that people are looking at and we are just making all this unnecessary and in my opinion, a lot comes from people who don't, have not been involved that deeply in AI in the past. Somehow they have seen the power of it and they are jumping to conclusions that's my sense."

Hodjat said that humans have been augmenting themselves for a while, by wearing clothes or using smartphones and computers. While a future in which the brain becomes augmented by a computer is possible, Hodjat said this is unlikely to come soon.

"I think that is science fiction more than something that is necessary today and it's way out there, there are many many technologies that have to be solved before we get there."

Sentient Technologies is a U.S.-based AI firm which is applying the technology to different sectors such as finance and e-commerce.