Director of Facebook's European AI research center says Elon Musk's talk of the technology 'appeals to science fiction'

Director of Facebook's European AI research center says Elon Musk's talk of the technology 'appeals to science fiction'

Entrepreneur Elon Musk is giving a very alarmist speech about the progress of artificial intelligence (AI) technologies, and especially about the so-called “machine learning”, when a machine learns for itself.

The SpaceX boss believes that AI represents the “greatest risk we face as a civilization”, that humans would be reduced to “domesticated cats” compared to the superpowered computers that are being built or that “the battle for the superiority of AI at the national level is the most likely cause of a third World War”.

On Facebook’s European AI research centre, based in Paris, Antoine Bordes, director of the first parliamentary forum on AI, held at the beginning of November 2017, spoke to Business Insider France about Elon Musk’s comments and the letter he had sent to Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg last summer:

“Fears like those of Elon Musk, about a strong intelligence that can take control, self-talk, that can at the limit trigger conflicts… These are things that appeal a lot to science fiction, to beliefs that are not based on any existing research results, and more on the idea that maybe this is a scenario that could happen.

Believing that it is necessary to “remain very careful” and “have a measured and reasoned speech,” the French physicist and engineer who has been working for four years at Facebook has developed his point of view:

“At the moment of technology, this is completely impossible and we don’t even have an idea how it would be possible in the next ten, twenty or thirty years. But, as every time with progress, we will be surprised by what it [ndlr: le progrès] will be able to do.”

Last month, Yann LeCun, the head of Facebook’s AI division, had already told The Verge that we were still “really, really far from building a really smart machine”.

Antoine Bordes, who stressed that he has “an optimistic vision of AI just like Mark Zuckerberg”, added that AI “will actually bring a lot of transformations in society, but transformations with beneficial aspects”, whether in the field of health, the regulation of energy flows etc.

The Frenchman, who works with about forty people at Facebook’s AI research center based in Paris, told Business Insider France that he is excited about “the development of communication technologies, language comprehension, translation and speech synthesis”.

Antoine Bordes, who has worked for a long time on dialogue systems, has argued that “very soon, in a few years, we will be able to talk, dictate for example what you are doing there and directly be transcribed into 50 languages”.

Behind this, the researcher imagines many uses that could change the work of many people, such as for example the live transcription of meeting reports.

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