Musk’s warnings about AI in aviation should be heeded NOW

Elon Musk on AI in aviation
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Elon Musk: In a few years, robots will move so fast you’ll need a ‘strobe light’ to see them


Elon Musk, “robots of the future need to be regulated”


Industry, state/local governments and federal agencies need to get to work NOW

Entrepreneurs expect to see innovation move at the speed of light. Consequently, they are not comfortable with regulations’ movement at the speed of glaciers. The introduction of the disruptive technology of UASs or drones into aviation was a major clash between the regulator and the regulated. The advocates asserted that the FAA’s speed, or lack thereof, was harming this sector’s growth and the bureaucrats explained that their job prioritizes safety while not really rewarding expedition.

The next bit of technology that will test the FAA is flying cars, particularly autonomous vehicles. In particular, “unmanning” these aerocars and depending on artificial intelligence to “operate” these bimodal vehicles will force the regulators to reexamine their standards in multiple dimensions.

The introduction of AI controlled airplanes, as well as those with drivers/pilots, has been frequently addressed here:

This regulatory challenge is not just about technical safety issues, but also serious federalism debates (where does a federal standard stop, and local enforcement begin).



What is refreshing now is that one of the leading entrepreneurial innovators is alerting all involved of the need to begin NOW to prepare for the coming of disruptive AI technology in aviation. Further, he flags for the regulated and the regulator that unregulated AI aircraft is likely to result in harm to the populace. Here are some quotes from the CNBC piece:

Musk quote


Also Musk tweeted a reminder that artificial intelligence needs to be regulated by federal lawmakers.

“Got to regulate AI/robotics like we do food, drugs, aircraft & cars. Public risks require public oversight. Getting rid of the FAA [wouldn’t] make flying safer. They’re there for good reason,” Musk writes. He published the comment with a link to the music video “Regulate,” a rap song released in 1994 from the artists Warren G and Nate Dogg.


Musk has warned of this before too.

“AI is a rare case where I think we need to be proactive in regulation than be reactive,” according to Musk, speaking to the National Governors Association in July.

His call for regulation is because he says the potential for robotics, if let to develop unchecked, threatens human existence.

“I have exposure to the most cutting edge AI, and I think people should be really concerned by it,” says Musk. “AI is a fundamental risk to the existence of human civilization in a way that car accidents, airplane crashes, faulty drugs or bad food were not — they were harmful to a set of individuals within society, of course, but they were not harmful to society as a whole.”

Another commentator transmogrified Pascal’s Wager on God into a risk analysis of Musk’s AI musings:


It is so rare for the private sector to welcome, if not ask for, regulation. Under such rare circumstances, industry, the FAA and others should begin this task.


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