Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has criticised fellow Silicon Valley executive Elon Musk and others who warn against the potential threat of artificial intelligence (AI) to humanity as "pretty irresponsible". During a wide-ranging Facebook Live chat on Sunday afternoon while smoking meats in his backyard in Palo Alto, California, Zuckerberg answered several questions from viewers, from tips on cooking ribs to his personal challenge for 2017 and his thoughts on the future of AI.
During the livestream, one viewer asked: "I watched a recent interview with Elon Musk, and his largest fear for future was AI. What are your thoughts on AI, and how it could affect the world?"
"I have pretty strong opinions on this," Zuckerberg said. "I am optimistic. I am an optimistic person in general. I think you can build things and the world gets better. But with AI especially, I am really optimistic.
"And I think people who are naysayers and try to drum up these doomsday scenarios — I just, I don't understand it. It's really negative and in some ways I actually think it is pretty irresponsible," he says.
Zuckerberg discussed some of the various ways that AI can help improve the quality of people's lives such as helping diagnose diseases.
"If you think about just safety, and health, and keeping people safe, AI is already helping us basically diagnose disease better, match up drugs with people depending on what they're sick [with] so they can get treated better," Zuckerberg said.
"So it's going to help a whole lot of people get treated, and get better healthcare than would have had access to it before."
Zuckerberg also touched on self-driving car technology as an example of how AI can be used to help improve people's lives.
"One of the top causes of death for people is car accidents still and if you can eliminate that with AI, that is going to be just a dramatic improvement", Zuckerberg said.
However, he did address the possibility of using AI for negative purposes as well.
"Whenever I hear people saying AI is going to hurt people in the future, I think yeah, you know, technology can generally always be used for good and bad, and you need to be careful about how you build it and you need to be careful about what you build and how it is going to be used," he explained. "But people who are arguing for slowing down the process of building AI, I just find that really questionable. I have a hard time wrapping my head around that.
"Because if you're arguing against AI, then you're arguing against safer cars that aren't going to have accidents. And you're arguing against being able to better diagnose people when they're sick and I just don't see how in good conscience some people can do that.
"So, I'm just much more optimistic on this, in general, than probably a lot of folks are."
Speaking to US governors at the National Governors Association summer meeting in Rhode Island last week, Musk described artificial intelligence as a "fundamental risk to the existence of civilisation". He also urged government leaders to proactively address and regulate the AI development sector, noting that robots will soon be able to "do everything, bar nothing".
"I have exposure to the very most cutting edge AI, and I think people should be really concerned about it," the SpaceX and Tesla CEO said. "Until people see robots going down the street killing people, they don't know how to react because it seems so ethereal.
"AI is a rare case where I think we need to be proactive in regulation instead of reactive. Because I think by the time we are reactive in AI regulation, it's too late."