Top Silicon Valley exec on why Mark Zuckerberg and Elon Musk are both right about A.I.


Elon Musk says artificial intelligence is a bigger threat than North Koreaand a ” fundamental risk to the existence of human civilization.” He predicts a global race to develop artificial intelligence will result in World War 3.

Mark Zuckerberg says Musk’s AI rhetoric is ” pretty irresponsible.” The Facebook CEO is “optimistic” about what artificial intelligence can do now and will be able to do in the future.

Top Silicon Valley tech executive Sam Altman, who is president of Y Combinator, says that both Musk and Zuckerberg are right.

“Like many other arguments, both sides are correct,” Altman tells CNBC Make It.

“It could be the greatest thing ever,” he says. “I really do believe that, if we could eliminate a huge percentage of human suffering with AI.

“I also believe there will be down sides. Any super powerful technology is good and bad.”

Altman highlights other similarly dualistic technologies: fission and social media.

“When we learned to split the atom, we were able to make huge destructive bombs and also very cheap, clean energy,” he says to CNBC Make It. “We got Twitter and Facebook, which let us connect with loved ones but also makes us unhappy because we read crap all day. Any really powerful technology has huge good and huge bad.”

In addition to running top Silicon Valley start-up mentorship and investment company, Y Combinator – which has funded the likes of Airbnb, Dropbox and Stripe – Altman is one of the co-founders of Open AI, a non-profit organization designed to ensure a safe and productive evolution into a more autonomous future. Musk is another co-founder of Open AI.