Long known for his warnings on the potential dangers of A.I., Tesla CEO Elon Musk on Monday cautioned that even a “benign dependency” on these complex machines can threaten civilization.
Musk’s reasoning was that reliance on A.I. to perform seemingly simple tasks can, over time, create an environment in which humans forget how to operate the machines that enabled A.I. in the first place.
“Even benign dependency on AI/Automation is dangerous to civilization if taken so far that we eventually forget how the machines work,” Musk tweeted.
Even benign dependency on AI/Automation is dangerous to civilization if taken so far that we eventually forget how the machines work
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) May 1, 2023
The argument came in a follow-up post, recommending E.M. Forster’s 1909 dystopian short story, “The Machine Stops.”
The story predicted a future in which humanity is overly reliant and subordinate to machines.
In response to Musk’s tweet, a Twitter user shared the following quote from the story: “Above her, beneath her, and around her, the Machine hummed eternally; she did not notice the noise, for she had been born with it in her ears.”
Musk has for many years expressed strong opinions about A.I. and has dismissed other tech leaders, including Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates, for having what he has described as a “limited” understanding of the field.