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Leonid Bershidsky

Musk's Artificial Intelligence Warnings Are Hype

Elon Musk has a talent for unconventional marketing. His gloomy predictions of artificial intelligence talking over the world are great for his investments in the technology.
Pitchman, not prophet.

Pitchman, not prophet.

Photographer: Yuriko Nakao/Bloomberg

As we await a detailed blog post from Elon Musk about the "existential threat" posed by artificial intelligence, perhaps pondering all his previous warnings on the subject, it's useful to consider two relevant factors: the actual state of AI research and the Tesla founder's extraordinary capacity for self-promotion.

Musk claims his fear that machines will take over the world comes from his familiarity with the work of companies such as U.K.-based DeepMind, in which he was an investor before last January, when Google bought it for $400 million. Late last month, DeepMind reported what it, and some commentators, have called a breakthrough