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Talking AI with the Nevada governor. (AP/Stephan Savoia)

Leading robotics experts are rebuffing Elon Musk's siren call for the urgent regulation of artificial intelligence, which he calls an existential threat to the human race. "Let's talk about regulation of the self-driving system on his Teslas," Rodney Brooks, a robotics pioneer, told an audience at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology on Monday.

On Saturday, Musk said that AI should be regulated before it's too late. "In my opinion it is the biggest risk that we face as a civilization," he said. Musk was following up on earlier such remarks, in which he warned that machines are on their way to becoming smarter than humans, and out of control of their makers.

But Brooks, in addition to robotics executives from Amazon and Toyota, suggested that work on AI is at a very embryonic level, and that such worries verge on hysteria. The people such as Musk conveying such warnings "share a common thread: they don't work in artificial intelligence themselves," Brooks said. "But we know how hard it is to get anything to work at product level."

Musk, along with Bill Gates and Stephen Hawking, has been one of the leading voices warning of a dystopian, machine-led future if humans are not careful. His OpenAI Institute is an effort to develop safe AI.

But Gil Pratt, the CEO of the Toyota Institute, suggested that what is really worrying is the unnecessary stoking of fears about a dystopian future. "That's not what is really going on," he told the same MIT audience at a robotics event organized by TechCrunch.

Bottom Line: Tye Brady, chief technologist at Amazon Robotics and a third voice opposing Musk's suggestion, said, "We will always be in charge of our technology."

Go deeper

Updated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Capitol review panel recommends more police, mobile fencing

Photo: Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images

A panel appointed by Congress to review security measures at the Capitol is recommending several changes, including mobile fencing and a bigger Capitol police force, to safeguard the area after a riotous mob breached the building on Jan. 6.

Why it matters: Law enforcement officials have warned there could be new plots to attack the area and target lawmakers, including during a speech President Biden is expected to give to a joint session of Congress.

CDC says fully vaccinated people can take fewer precautions

Photo: Filip Filipovic/Getty Images

People who have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 can take fewer precautions in certain situations, including socializing indoors without masks when in the company of low-risk or other vaccinated individuals, according to guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released Monday.

Why it matters: Per the report, there's early evidence that suggests vaccinated people are less likely to have asymptomatic infection and are potentially less likely to transmit the virus to other people. At the time of its publication, the CDC said the guidance would apply to about 10% of Americans.

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