Last Call For Humanity? JPMorgan Says AI ‘Lacks Motivation’ To Make People Extinct

Listen, if you wake up in an underground bunker with John Connor ten years from now, don’t say Elon Musk didn’t try to warn you.

According to Musk (who spoke to Rolling Stone earlier this month), there’s “maybe a five to 10 percent chance of success,” in making Artificial Intelligence safe, which implies that if we keep pushing ahead with AI development, there’s “maybe” a 90-95% chance that we’ll ultimately find ourselves having to fight trench warfare with Terminators and scavenge bone-strewn wastelands for food and clean water.

This is an ongoing “concern” for Elon. Back in July, at the US National Governors Association summer meeting in Providence, Rhode Island, he famously delivered the following rather apocalyptic warning:

I have exposure to the very cutting edge AI, and I think people should be really concerned about it. I keep sounding the alarm bell, but until people see robots going down the street killing people, they don’t know how to react, because it seems so ethereal.

I don’t know about you, but if I see robots “going down the street killing people,” I’m going to shoot at them, but then again, I guess that only underscores the contention that an armed clash between robots and humanity is all but inevitable.

And you can trace this back years if you really want to. Back in 2014 for example, Musk reminded CNBC that there is a movie called “Terminator” – on the off chance anyone at the network had forgotten. To wit:

There have been movies about this, you know, like Terminator. There are some scary outcomes. And we should try to make sure the outcomes are good, not bad.

He’s also suggested that even if we don’t go to war with the machines, they’ll eventually turn us into “house cats.”

The latest “evidence” of how doomed we all are is apparently the following video of a clumsy looking Rosie the Robot Maid trying to negotiate how to Mario-jump between blocks of various sizes:

Now I guess the backflip is “impressive” but on the other hand, you have to keep some perspective. The movements there are so awkward that if that were a human at the gym, onlookers would have every reason to believe the person was retarded. Musk thinks that’s just a preview though:

You get the idea.

Well against this backdrop, JPMorgan is out with a sprawling, 112-page report on investing in AI. As with anything that’s 112 pages long, trying to summarize it is an exercise in abject futility (although maybe a machine would be up to the task).

We did want to point out a couple of charts. JPM notes that “spending on AI-focused hardware, software, and services [is forecast] to reach $58bn by 2021, up from ~$12bn in 2017, making this one of the fastest-growing technology segments (growing at nearly 50% ’17-’21 CAGR)”:


Now consider this from the report:

To put this spending size into perspective, AI growth projections of ~50% CAGR through 2020/21 are more than twice the growth rate of other high-growth tech subsectors (such as Big Data 23% and Cloud 20%). By 2020, AI-focused spending could be about the same size as the security software market.


So that’s pretty notable for obvious reasons. As to whether the hype is justified, the bank’s answer is unequivocal:

Yes; while it is relatively early days, we fully believe AI will be a disruptive force in the coming years. With advances in computing power, increasing sophistication of learning algorithms, and vast swathes of data streams available for training, computers are now able to perform tasks that were once considered the exclusive domain of the human mind. These ‘self-learning’ systems are impacting nearly every industry vertical from manufacturing to financial services, giving rise to new business models while making some legacy models obsolete.

But the real question – i.e. whether you’re likely to run into Arnold Schwarzenegger anytime soon and find out he was sent back from the future to either kill you or save you depending on which sequel you’re living in – JPMorgan is going to go out on a limb and say that “there is no need for immediate panic.” Here’s more:

Will AI make humanity obsolete?

The political and philosophical debate we mainly leave to others, but in our opinion there is no need for immediate panic. We are actively implementing narrow artificial intelligence (task focused), but so far nothing close to (an all-powerful and all-knowing) artificial general intelligence.

That said, there are risks in not understanding the logic behind even some of the simple tasks already automated by AI (such as resumé filtering, criminal sentencing recommendations, etc.).

But as for a dystopian future where humans are no longer needed or somehow made extinct? Well, all things are possible (and AI is not our only threat here), but it seems unlikely machines would have the sense of purpose, motivation, emotional engagement with the future, and sense of limited time that drives humanity’s intelligence. There is also a strong argument to suggest that humans and AI merge…but that is a debate for a different time.

So that’s what we’re betting on folks – that the machines will lack “the sense of purpose, and motivation” required to take over the planet.

What they do have the “sense of purpose” and “motivation” for currently, is pitching you an ICO which, as DealBreaker’s Owen Davis notes, could very well be the most terrifying development of all.


Owen, like Elon, thinks that’s the stuff of nightmares.

For Heisenberg, it just brings back memories of last call…

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