Stephen Hawking and out of control computers from I, Robot / Getty

Document also signed by prominent employees of companies involved in AI, including Google, DeepMind and Vicarious

Hundreds of scientists and technologists have signed an open letter calling for research into the problems of artificial intelligence in an attempt to combat the dangers of the technology.

Signatories to the letter created by the Future of Life Institute including Elon Musk and Stephen Hawking, who has warned that AI could be the end of humanity. Anyone can sign the letter, which now includes hundreds of signatures.


It warns that “it is important to research how to reap its benefits while avoiding potential pitfalls”. It says that “our AI systems must do what we want them to do” and lays out research objectives that will “help maximize the societal benefit of AI”.

That will be a project that involves not just scientists and technology experts, they warn. Because it involves society as well as AI, it will also require help from experts in “economics, law and philosophy to computer security, formal methods and, of course, various branches of AI itself”.

CEO of Tesla, Elon Musk

A document laying out those research priorities points out concerns about autonomous vehicles — which people are already “horrified” by — as well as machine ethics, autonomous weapons, privacy and professional ethics.

Elon Musk has also repeatedly voiced concerns about artificial intelligence, describing it as “summoning the demon” and the “biggest existential threat there is”.

The document is signed by many representatives from Google and artificial intelligence companies DeepMind and Vicarious. Academics from many of the world’s biggest universities have also signed it, including those from Cambridge, Oxford, Harvard, Stanford and MIT.