magine your least-favorite world leader. (Take as much time as you need.)
Now, imagine if that person wasn't a human, but a network of millions of computers around the world. This digi-dictator has instant access to every scrap of recorded information about every person who's ever lived. It can make millions of calculations in a fraction of a second, controls the world's economy and weapons systems with godlike autonomy and — scariest of all — can never, ever die.
This unkillable digital dictator, according to Tesla and SpaceX founder Elon Musk, is one of the darker scenarios awaiting humankind's future if artificial-intelligence research continues without serious regulation. [Super-Intelligent Machines: 7 Robotic Futures]
"We are rapidly headed toward digital superintelligence that far exceeds any human, I think it's pretty obvious," Musk said in a new AI documentary called "Do You Trust This Computer?" directed by Chris Paine (who interviewed Musk previously for the documentary "Who Killed The Electric Car?"). "If one company or a small group of people manages to develop godlike digital super-intelligence, they could take over the world."
Humans have tried to take over the world before. However, an authoritarian AI would have one terrible advantage over like-minded humans, Musk said.
"At least when there's an evil dictator, that human is going to die," Musk added. "But for an AI there would be no death. It would live forever, and then you'd have an immortal dictator, from which we could never escape."