Superintelligence — a form of artificial intelligence (AI) smarter than humans — could create an "immortal dictator," billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk warned.
In a documentary by American filmmaker Chris Paine, Musk said that the development of superintelligence by a company or other organization of people could result in a form of AI that governs the world.
"The least scary future I can think of is one where we have at least democratized AI because if one company or small group of people manages to develop godlike digital superintelligence, they could take over the world," Musk said.
"At least when there's an evil dictator, that human is going to die. But for an AI, there would be no death. It would live forever. And then you'd have an immortal dictator from which we can never escape."
The documentary by Paine examines a number of examples of AI, including autonomous weapons, Wall Street technology and algorithms driving fake news. It also draws from cultural examples of AI, such as the 1999 film "The Matrix" and 2016 film "Ex Machina."
Musk cited Google's DeepMind as an example of a company looking to develop superintelligence. In 2016, AlphaGo, a program developed by the company, beat champion Lee Se-dol at the board game Go. It was seen a major achievement in the development of AI, after IBM's Deep Blue computer defeated chess champion Garry Kasparov in 1997.
Musk said: "The DeepMind system can win at any game. It can already beat all the original Atari games. It is super human; it plays all the games at super speed in less than a minute."
The Tesla and SpaceX CEO said that artificial intelligence "doesn't have to be evil to destroy humanity."
"If AI has a goal and humanity just happens to be in the way, it will destroy humanity as a matter of course without even thinking about it. No hard feelings," Musk said.
"It's just like, if we're building a road and an anthill just happens to be in the way, we don't hate ants, we're just building a road, and so, goodbye anthill."
Last year, Musk warned that the global race toward AI could result in a third world war. The entrepreneur has also suggested that the emerging technology could pose a greater risk to the world than a nuclear conflict with North Korea.
Musk believes that humans should merge with AI to avoid the risk of becoming irrelevant. He is the co-founder of Neuralink, a start-up that reportedly wants to link the human brain with a computer interface.
He quit the board of OpenAI, a non-profit organization aimed at promoting and developing AI safely, in February.