Elon Musk, Jonathan Nolan Warn of Artificial Intelligence in New Film

Elon Musk_Chris Paine - Getty - H 2018
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Chris Paine's documentary 'Do You Trust This Computer?' raises questions about the benefits and dangers of an unregulated artificial intelligence industry

Elon Musk, the billionaire entrepreneur and CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, delivers a warning about artificial intelligence in the new documentary Do You Trust This Computer?, directed by Chris Paine (Who Killed the Electric Car?). "AI doesn't have to be evil to destroy humanity," Musk observes, "but if AI has a goal, and humanity just happens to be in the way, it will destroy us as a matter of course without even thinking about it."

Musk also was among those, like HBO's Westworld creator Jonathan Nolan, in attendance at the film's premiere Thursday at the Regency Village in Westwood. Before the film, which explores both the promise and dangers of AI, Musk said, "It's a very important subject that will affect our lives in ways we can't even imagine — some scary, some good." He announced that he has paid for the movie to be streamed for free throughout the weekend, saying “I think it’s important that a lot people see this movie."

Musk, who has called for regulation of AI in the past, also congratulated Paine on the film: “Chris and his team have done an amazing job with this movie.”  

Do You Trust This Computer? examines the many ways AI is already impacting our lives, altering them for better or worse. It asks such questions as: Can we have surgical robots that lack the human trust of a doctor-patient relationships? What if election-altering data tools like the ones used by Cambridge Analytica fall into the hands of dictators? Are we going to militarize these technologies – and if we don’t, will our adversaries force us to? Paine doesn't offer up answers for how the billion-dollar AI industry could be regulated.

At the event, Sean Gourley, CEO of machine intelligence company Primer, and Rana el Kaliouby, CEO of face-recognition technology firm Affectiva, spoke with The Hollywood Reporter about the kind of regulation they envision – and whether anyone, in a global context, would be able to pass and enforce such regulations.

Gourley said it’s unclear how code could even be regulated: “Does every line of code have to be reviewed?" he asked, adding, “The speed at which this technology is developing is outpacing the time we need to regulate.”

El Kaliouby pointed to the Partnership on AI, a consortium that wrestles with ethical questions regarding AI technology, with partners from both the tech industry (Google, DeepMind, Amazon) and justice organizations such as Amnesty International. “The idea is that we all come together,” el Kaliouby told THR, “because by the time we see legislation, it’s too late.”

Do You Trust This Computer?, which is also screening at Laemmle's Monica Film Center in Santa Monica, was produced by Cinetic Media and Papercut Films in association with Diamond Docs, with Paine and Tiffany Asakawa serving as executive producers.