Vinod Khosla
Vinod Khosla says people should not worry more about China killing us off than the potential dangers of AI. Wikimedia Commons

Vinod Khosla may have seen the potential of artificial intelligence (AI) when he invested a lot of money in the American AI company OpenAI. Now, the 68-year-old billionaire is urging people to stop believing sentient AI is the biggest threat to the world.

Speaking at Fortune's Brainstorm AI conference, Khosla told attendees: "The doomers are focusing on the wrong risks. By far, orders of magnitude, higher risk to worry about, is China, not sentient AI killing us off."

He went on to say that the existential risk of sentient AI killing humans is "not worthy of conversation".

To those unaware, Khosla was an early backer of OpenAI. His venture capital firm Khosla Ventures invested $50 million (about £39 million) into the Sam Altman-led AI company in 2019.

That was the largest investment made by Khosla Ventures in its 15-year history. This is not the first time Khosla has warned people against overestimating risks posed by AI.

Vinod Khosla believes AI is misunderstood

In a recently aired episode of the "Cerebral Valley Podcast," Khosla told host Eric Newcomer that he thinks people tend to see the worst aspect of the newfangled technology and believe that it will end up harming them.

"So let me clarify. The risk of sentient AI killing us exists, but it's about the same as the risk of an asteroid hitting our planet and destroying us all. The press has overstated the risks of AI because it's so science-fiction," Khosla said.

"Too many people are looking at the dystopian angle of this one percent probability of something bad happening and ignoring the benefits to humanity of AI," he told Newcomer.

Predicting the future of AI, he told Newcomer that he thinks in 10 years "we'll have free doctors, free tutors for everybody, and free lawyers". As per his forecast, we will have a billion bipedal robots in operation within 25 years.

Unsurprisingly, Khosla's views do not align with OpenAI cofounder Elon Musk's opinion about AI. After stepping down as one of OpenAI's board members, Musk went on to set up his own AI company called xAI.

"AI is more dangerous than, say, mismanaged aircraft design or production maintenance or bad car production," Musk told Fox News' Tucker Carlson in April.

"In the sense that it has the potential, however, small one may regard that probability, but it is non-trivial, it has the potential of civilisation destruction," he added.

Speaking about how the new technology could impact democracy in the future, Musk said he is concerned about AI being a significant influence in elections.

While acknowledging that AI doesn't have agency, Musk pointed out that people could use AI as a tool in elections. Interestingly, the 52-year-old business magnate recently invited former OpenAI board member Ilya Sutskever to join Tesla or xAI.