The Terminator robot is seen in the paddock following qualifying for the Spanish Formula One Grand Prix at the Circuit de Catalunya in Barcelona on May 9, 2009 .
Paul Gilham—Getty ImagesThe Terminator robot is photographed in Barcelona on May 9, 2009.d by
Will it help us evolve, or kill us all?
Artificial intelligence (AI) will end us, save us or—less jazzy-sounding but the more probable intersection of both—eventually obsolete us. From humbling chess grandmaster losses at the hands of mathematically brilliant supercomputers to semantic networks with the linguistic grasp of a four-year-old, one thing seems certain: AI is coming.
Here’s what today’s brightest programmers, philosophers and entrepreneurs have said about our terrifying, astonishing future.

Sam Altman

Altman, who’s working on developing an open-source version of AI that would be available to all rather than the few, believes future iterationscould
be designed to self-police, working only toward benevolent ends.
The 30-year-old computer programmer and president of startup
incubator Y Combinator says his “OpenAI” system will surpass human
intelligence in a matter of decades, but that the fact that it’s available to
anyone (as opposed to locked behind private, proprietary doors) should
offset any risks.

Nick Bostrom

The 42-year-old director of Oxford’s Future of Humanity Institute takes
a dimmer view of AI. In his 2014 book Superintelligence: Paths, Dangers, 
Strategies, Bostrom warns that AI could quickly turn dark and dispose of
humans. The subsequent world would harbor “economic miracles and
technological awesomeness, with nobody there to benefit,” like “a
Disneyland without children.”

Bill Gates

The 60-year-old computer software magnate and Microsoft cofounder
turned philanthropist views near-future low intelligence AI as a positive
labor replacement tool, writing that an AI revolution “should be positive
if we manage it well.” But he also worries that the “superintelligent” systems
coming a few decades down the road will become “strong enough to be a
concern.” He adds that he “[doesn’t] understand why some people are not

Stephen Hawking

The famed 74-year-old theoretical physicist, author and pioneer of
black hole physics believes AI could be both miraculous and catastrophic,
calling it (along with several other noteworthy scientists) “the biggest event
in human history,” helping wipe out war, disease and poverty. But with its
potential to grow so explosively it could wind up “outsmarting financial
markets, out-inventing human researchers, out-manipulating human
leaders, and developing weapons we cannot even understand,” Hawkings
cautions that it could also potentially be “the last [event in our history],
unless we learn how to avoid the risks.”

Michio Kaku

The 69-year-old bestselling author, theoretical physicist and futurist takes
a longer, more pragmatic view, calling AI an end-of-the-century problem.
He adds that even then, if humanity’s come up with no better methods to
constrain rogue AI, it’ll be a matter of putting “a chip in [artificially
intelligent robot] brains to shut them off.”

Ray Kurzweil

The 68-year-old inventor, futurist and director of engineering at Google
believes human-level AI will be achieved by 2029. Given the technology’s
potential to help find cures for diseases and clean up the environment,
he says we have “a moral imperative to realize this promise while controlling
the peril.”

Elon Musk

The outspoken 44-year-old entrepreneur, SpaceX founder and CEO of
Tesla Motors has famously called AI “our biggest existential threat,” fretting
that it may be tantamount to “summoning the demon.” And he’s deadly
serious, adding as a counterintuitive thought (for an entrepreneur, anyway)
that he’s “increasingly inclined to think that there should be some regulatory
oversight, maybe at the national and international level, just to make sure
that we don’t do something very foolish.”