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

Judge orders Eric Trump to testify in New York probe before election

Photo: Ira L. Black/Corbis via Getty Images

A judge on Wednesday ordered Eric Trump to comply with a subpoena to testify in a New York probe into his family business before the presidential election.

The state of play: New York Attorney General Letitia James (D) last month said her office had filed a lawsuit to compel the Trump Organization to comply with subpoenas related to an investigation into whether President Trump and his company improperly inflated the value of its assets on financial statements.

30 mins ago - Podcasts

Reid Hoffman and Mark Pincus on the rise of Silicon Valley SPACs

Silicon Valley venture capitalists are no longer content with investing in startups and then eventually handing them off. Instead, many are now forming SPACs, or blank-check acquisition companies, to ride tech unicorns into the public markets themselves.

Axios Re:Cap digs into this trend with the co-founders of a new tech SPAC called Reinvent Technology Partners: Reid Hoffman, a co-founder of LinkedIn and partner at Greylock, and Mark Pincus, the founder and former CEO of Zynga.

Updated 44 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 2:30 p.m. ET: 31,717,955 — Total deaths: 973,014 Total recoveries: 21,795,005Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 2:30 p.m. ET: 6,913,046 — Total deaths: 201,319 — Total recoveries: 2,646,959 — Total tests: 96,612,436Map.
  3. Health: CDC director says over 90% of Americans have not yet been exposed to coronavirus — Supply shortages continue to plague testing.
  4. Politics: Fauci clashes with Rand Paul at COVID hearing: "You're not listening" — FDA chief vows agency will not accept political pressure on coronavirus vaccine.
  5. Vaccines: Johnson & Johnson begins large phase 3 trial — The FDA plans to toughen standards.
  6. Sports: Less travel is causing the NBA to see better basketball.

Get Axios AM in your inbox

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!