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Elon Musk says global race for A.I. will be the most likely cause of World War III

  • Elon Musk said Monday that artificial intelligence could be the "most likely" cause of a third world war
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin said Friday that the first global leader in AI would "become the ruler of the world"
Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX and Tesla
Photo by Scott Olson
Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX and Tesla

Elon Musk has made an ominous warning about artificial intelligence (AI), suggesting it could be the cause of a third world war.

His comment was in response to Russian President Vladimir Putin who said Friday that the first global leader in AI would "become the ruler of the world."

"China, Russia, soon all countries w strong computer science. Competition for AI superiority at national level most likely cause of WW3 imo (in my opinion)," the Tesla and SpaceX CEO tweeted Monday.

Putin said that the development of AI raises both "colossal opportunities" and "threats that are difficult to predict."

"Whoever becomes the leader in this sphere will become the ruler of the world," he said at a meeting with students on Friday.

The United States is generally considered to be the nation leading the charge towards AI currently, with tech giants like Google and Microsoft pouring large amounts of cash into research and development projects.

But last week, a report by Goldman Sachs found that China could have the AI capability to catch up with the U.S.

"We believe AI technology will become a priority on the government's agenda, and we expect further national/regional policy and funding support on AI to follow," the investment bank said.

Musk's latest A.I. warning

The business magnate has been very vocal about his thoughts on AI.

Last month he co-signed a letter with other leaders in robotics including Google Deep Mind's Mustafa Suleyman, calling on the United Nations to ban killer robots.

He even suggested that the emerging technology could pose a greater risk to the world than a nuclear conflict with North Korea.

His latest comments couldn't be more timely. On Sunday, North Korea said it had successfully carried out a test of a hydrogen bomb.

A.I., not country leaders, could start war

Musk said that there was a possibility that war could be automated.

In response to one Twitter user, he said: "May be initiated not by the country leaders, but one of the AI's if it decides that a prepemtive (sic) strike is the most probable path to victory".

He even said he was skeptical of the possibility that North Korea could launch its own nuclear weapon.

WATCH: Elon Musk issues a stark warning about A.I., calls it a bigger threat than North Korea