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Google's AI boss blasts Musk's scare tactics on machine takeover

(Bloomberg) -- Elon Musk is the most-famous Cassandra of artificial intelligence. The Tesla Inc. chief routinely drums up the technology’s risks in public and on Twitter, where he recently called the global race to develop AI the "most likely cause" of a third world war.

Researchers at Google, Facebook Inc. and other AI-focused companies find this irritating. John Giannandrea, the head of search and AI at Alphabet Inc.’s Google, took one of the clearest shots at Musk on Tuesday -- all while carefully leaving him unnamed.

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Multiple cables connect to powered supercalculator Blade computer units during testing at the Bull SA headquarters in Angers, France, on Monday, June 23, 2014. Thierry Breton, chief executive officer of software maker Atos, is engineering a 620 million-euro ($846 million) bid to acquire Bull, the company he tried to revive two decades ago. Photographer: Balint Porneczi/Bloomberg

"There’s a huge amount of unwarranted hype around AI right now," Giannandrea said at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference in San Francisco. "This leap into, ‘Somebody is going to produce a superhuman intelligence and then there’s going to be all these ethical issues’ is unwarranted and borderline irresponsible."

Giannandrea said Google has invested in AI safety and ethics, but stressed that the more extreme concerns are overblown. "I’m definitely not worried about the AI apocalypse," he said, after comparing modern-day computers to a four-year-old. "I just object to the hype and the sound bites that some people have been making."

A spokesman for Open AI, a research organization partly backed by Musk, declined to comment.