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Elon Musk pledges $10 million to ward off Skynet

Musk is helping to ensure that this scene from Terminator II isn't the future of humanity.
Musk is helping to ensure that this scene from Terminator II isn't the future of humanity.
Tri-Star Pictures

It's a staple of science fiction movie plots: humans develop artificial intelligence, which then turns evil and tries to enslave or wipe out the human race. The Terminator franchise had Skynet trying to destroy humanity. In the Matrix, robots turn human beings into giant batteries.

But some prominent thinkers believe that it's time to take the possible downsides of AI seriously. One of them is billionaire Elon Musk, and he's pledging $10 million to fund research designed to ensure artificial intelligence works to humanity's benefit.

Musk is one of Silicon Valley's most accomplished entrepreneurs. After making his fortune as a co-founder of PayPal, Musk founded two of the technology industry's most interesting companies: the electric car company Tesla and the private spaceflight pioneer SpaceX.

"AI safety is important," Musk said in the announcement. "So I'm today committing $10M to support research aimed at keeping AI beneficial for humanity."

The money will fund grants to research possible pitfalls of AI and examine ways to build safeguards into AI software. The money will also fund "meetings and outreach programs aimed at bringing together academic AI researchers, industry AI developers and other key constituents to continue exploring how to maximize the societal benefits of AI."

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