Elon Musk: I'm afraid of the Terminator

The Tesla CEO echoes the words earlier this week of Stephen Hawking, and says he invests in AI so he can keep an eye on it.

Chris Matyszczyk

Something to be afraid of? ImdbMovies/YouTube screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

As those who want us all to be robots plow relentlessly toward their goal, we real (if not normal) humans seek protection.

We need intelligent knights in shining armor -- or even wearing tight black suits -- who'll counter the potential dark side of artificial intelligence.

Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk claims to be one of these knights.

In an interview with CNBC, he explained that he, too, is concerned that AI might have an evil eye.

He said: "I like to just keep an eye on what's going on with artificial intelligence. I think there is potentially a dangerous outcome there."

He is not alone. Earlier this week, Stephen Hawking "="" shortcode="link" asset-type="article" uuid="2f265597-3e8d-4728-ba3e-31c87ed16b8d" slug="stephen-hawking-artificial-intelligence-could-be-a-real-danger" link-text="told HBO's John Oliver that AI could be a " section="news" title="Stephen Hawking: AI could be a 'real danger'" edition="us" data-key="link_bulk_key" api="{"id":"2f265597-3e8d-4728-ba3e-31c87ed16b8d","slug":"stephen-hawking-artificial-intelligence-could-be-a-real-danger","contentType":null,"edition":"us","topic":{"slug":"science"},"metaData":{"typeTitle":null,"hubTopicPathString":"Science","reviewType":null},"section":"news"}"> "

Now here is one of the foremost entrepreneurial minds in technology explaining that he's scared of the bad stuff he's seen in movies.

Musk told CNBC: "There have been movies about this, you know, like 'Terminator.' There are some scary outcomes. And we should try to make sure the outcomes are good, not bad."

There is only one drawback with this fine intention: You can't make sure the outcomes will be good.

Musk says that he invested in AI company Deep Mind (later bought by, gasp, Google) just to see what was going on -- there will always be those who enjoy playing with futuristic fire.

Let's just see what happens when we put this wire here and that connection there. AAAGGGHHH!

Hawking warned that robots might find ways to design improvements to themselves, improvements that wouldn't exactly benefit humanity.

Musk, on the other hadn't, believes that benevolence on the inside is the best way to maintain a level of human control. Indeed, one of his latest investments is in a company called Vicarious.

He told CNBC that this company's aim is "essentially emulating the human brain." Now there's an entertaining idea.

As he continued to expound on his AI strategy, Musk returned to the subject of the Terminator.

He said: "In the movie 'Terminator,' they didn't create AI to -- they didn't expect, you know, some sort of Terminator-like outcome. It is sort of like the Monty Python thing. Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition."

Well, not quite. There are a few people already wondering about the Terminator Inquisition.

Asked what dangers he sees that he can actually do something about, Musk replied: "I don't know."