What Peter Thiel thinks about AI risk

by Dr_Manhattan1 min read11th Dec 20146 comments


Personal Blog

This is probably the clearest statement from him on the issue:


25:30 mins in


TL;DR: he thinks its an issue but also feels AGI is very distant and hence less worried about it than Musk.


I recommend the rest of the lecture as well, it's a good summary of "Zero to One"  and a good QA afterwards.

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Question: Are you as afraid of artificial intelligence as your Paypal colleague Elon Musk?

Thiel: I'm super pro-technology in all its forms. I do think that if AI happened, it would be a very strange thing. Generalized artificial intelligence. People always frame it as an economic question, it'll take people's jobs, it'll replace people's jobs, but I think it's much more of a political question. It would be like aliens landing on this planet, and the first question we ask wouldn't be what does this mean for the economy, it would be are they friendly, are they unfriendly? And so I do think the development of AI would be very strange. For a whole set of reasons, I think it's unlikely to happen any time soon, so I don't worry about it as much, but it's one of these tail risk things, and it's probably the one area of technology that I think would be worrisome, because I don't think we have a clue as to how to make it friendly or not.

Context: Elon Musk thinks there's an issue in the 5-7 year timeframe (probably due to talking to Demis Hassabis at Deepmind, I would guess). By that standard I'm also less afraid of AI than Elon Musk, but as Rob Bensinger will shortly be fond of saying, this conflates AGI danger with AGI imminence (a very very common conflation).

The Rob Bensinger post on this is now here.

Musk thinks there's an issue in the 5-7 year timeframe

Hopefully his enthusiasm (financially) isn't too dampened when that fails to be vindicated.

For context, in case anyone doesn't realize: Thiel has been MIRI's top donor throughout its history.