Putin Weighs in on Artificial Intelligence and Elon Musk Is Alarmed

Russian President Vladimir Putin's recent remarks about the future with artificial intelligence prompted alarm from Elon Musk.


Divining what the Russian President Vladimir Putin really thinks has implications not only for his country but for the future of the rest the world. Recently, Putin has been expressing some feelings about artificial intelligence that have both intrigued and puzzled observers. 

AI came up in Putin's September 21st conversation with Arkady Vorozh, the head of the Russian tech giant Yandex, during a tour of the company's headquarters. As Vorozh explained the potential of artificial intelligence, Putin seemed to show ambivalence towards its positive intentions, asking when will AI “eat us”?

After pausing to consider the unexpected remark, Vorozh replied “I hope never”, pitching AI as just another tool.

"It’s not the first machine to be better than humans at something,” remarked Vorozh. An excavator digs better than we do with a shovel. But we don’t get eaten by excavators. A car moves faster than we do…”

But Putin did not sound convinced, pointing out - “they don’t think,” presumably referring to the fact that an excavator is not intelligent while AI would be.

On the other side, Putin has previously acknowledged the importance of AI to the future of humanity and global politics. Speaking to students across the country about science on September 1st, at the start of the Russian school year, Putin said that “the future belongs to artificial intelligence.” And whichever nation will be at the forefront of the technology, will rule the world, according to the Russian President.

“Artificial intelligence is the future, not only for Russia, but for all humankind,” explained Putin. “It comes with colossal opportunities, but also threats that are difficult to predict. Whoever becomes the leader in this sphere will become the ruler of the world.”

In the 45-minute open lesson, attended via satellite links by students and teachers from 16,000 schools for a total audience of over one million, Putin also expressed his desire that no one should “monopolize” the AI field. He also offered that Russia would share what it learned with others in the word.

“If we become leaders in this area, we will share this know-how with entire world, the same way we share our nuclear technologies today,” maintained Putin.

Putin’s words prompted a reaction from Elon Musk, who famously continues to warn about the dangers posed by future AI. In a tweet, Musk cautioned that competition for “AI superiority’ could result in World War 3. 

 


During the visit to the Yandex headquarters, Putin also managed to poke fun at the AI robot designed by the company. Watch that here:

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Scientists study tattooed corpses, find pigment in lymph nodes

It turns out, that tattoo ink can travel throughout your body and settle in lymph nodes.

17th August 1973: An American tattoo artist working on a client's shoulder. (Photo by F. Roy Kemp/BIPs/Getty Images)
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In the slightly macabre experiment to find out where tattoo ink travels to in the body, French and German researchers recently used synchrotron X-ray fluorescence in four "inked" human cadavers — as well as one without. The results of their 2017 study? Some of the tattoo ink apparently settled in lymph nodes.


Image from the study.

As the authors explain in the study — they hail from Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility, and the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment — it would have been unethical to test this on live animals since those creatures would not be able to give permission to be tattooed.

Because of the prevalence of tattoos these days, the researchers wanted to find out if the ink could be harmful in some way.

"The increasing prevalence of tattoos provoked safety concerns with respect to particle distribution and effects inside the human body," they write.

It works like this: Since lymph nodes filter lymph, which is the fluid that carries white blood cells throughout the body in an effort to fight infections that are encountered, that is where some of the ink particles collect.

Image by authors of the study.

Titanium dioxide appears to be the thing that travels. It's a white tattoo ink pigment that's mixed with other colors all the time to control shades.

The study's authors will keep working on this in the meantime.

“In future experiments we will also look into the pigment and heavy metal burden of other, more distant internal organs and tissues in order to track any possible bio-distribution of tattoo ink ingredients throughout the body. The outcome of these investigations not only will be helpful in the assessment of the health risks associated with tattooing but also in the judgment of other exposures such as, e.g., the entrance of TiO2 nanoparticles present in cosmetics at the site of damaged skin."

Photo by Alina Grubnyak on Unsplash
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