Steve Wozniak, born 1950. Bill Gates, born 1955. Jaron Lanier, born 1960. Elon Musk, born 1971. These men are associated with all things tech and digital. Gates and Wozniak are icons, co-founders of Microsoft and Apple, respectively. These days these two spend their time being inspirations to erstwhile technology entrepreneurs: Gates the sage of the strait-laced, Wozniak the prophet of the iconoclasts. Lanier was a former employee at Atari, and an early proponent of virtual reality. The polymath Lanier is probably the most prolific writer, squeezing in well regarded books between composing classical music. Elon Musk is co-founder of Tesla motors among other tech businesses (I guess cars, if they are electric ones, fall under the aegis of “tech”). He is undoubtedly the most active of the quartet with respect to producing new technology.
Musk is also how I came about writing this post. I read a news story at TechCrunch about protests at the recent South by SouthWest (SXSW) – the festival for the cool and the connected. The protests, in part spurred on by comments from Musk, was an anti-robot protest. From the article in TechCrunch:
“The protest spokesperson cited Elon Musk as a prominent person who has expressed concern about robots and the development of artificial intelligence, and in fact TechCrunch reported in January about a $10M donation by Musk to the Future of Life Institute to ‘keep AI [Artificial Intelligence] beneficial to humanity.'”
Robots? Future of Life Institute? I would’ve dismissed the notion if someone so firmly ensconced in the tech world, and profiting handsomely from it no less, weren’t so concerned.