Russian President Vladimir Putin warned that Russian scientists were close to breaking the genetic code and could make “super soldiers,” which be “worse than a nuclear bomb.”
Speaking at a youth festival in the Black Sea city of Sochi, the Russian leader warned that scientists could create an army of genetically engineered soldiers that could not feel “pain or fear.”
“A man has the opportunity to get into the genetic code created by either nature, or as religious people would say, by the God,” he said.
“All kinds of practical consequences may follow. One may imagine that a man can create a man not only theoretically but also practically.” said the president. “He can be a genius mathematician, a brilliant musician, or a soldier, a man who can fight without fear, compassion, regret, or pain.
“As you understand, humanity can enter, and most likely it will in the near future, a very difficult and very responsible period of its existence,” said Putin. “What I have just described might be worse than a nuclear bomb.”
Putin called on world leaders to establish guidelines to limit genetic manipulation, saying “When we do something, whatever we do, I want to reiterate it again—we must never forget about the ethical foundations of our work.”
Fear of AI
While the Russian strongman normally presents a cold, calculating image, it seems that inside he lives in fear of the future being some sort of science fiction dystopia.
Last month, while speaking with Arkady Volozh, CEO of internet firm Yandex, Putin said he feared technology would “eat us.”
He explained that he did not mean robots would consume human flesh, but that humans would be outstripped by robots whose artificial intelligence and mechanical bodies would outperform humans in every respect.
Putin used the example of earth-moving machinery, pointing out that steam shovels were better at digging than people.
Volozh said he replied, “But we don’t get eaten by excavators.”
Putin said, “They don’t think,” implying that that kind of physical power coupled with independent intellect might well turn on humans.
According to government-funded TV station RT, Putin raised the topic of AI with students across Russia via a satellite link on Sept. 1, the first day of the school year.
“Artificial intelligence is the future, not only for Russia, but for all humankind. 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,” he told them.
“If we become leaders in this area, we will share this know-how with the entire world, the same way we share our nuclear technologies today,” he added.
In response to this statement, Tesla CEO Elon Musk tweeted:
China, Russia, soon all countries w strong computer science. Competition for AI superiority at national level most likely cause of WW3 imo.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) September 4, 2017