Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk unexpectedly nominated for 'Luddite of the Year' award

A tech billionaire is an unlikely candidate for the prize of 'Luddite of the Year'

Thursday 24 December 2015 18:35
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Elon Musk is an unlikely nominee for the dubious award
Elon Musk is an unlikely nominee for the dubious award

Elon Musk, CEO of leading electric car company Tesla and private space transport company SpaceX, has unexpectedly been nominated for the dubious title of 'Luddite of the Year'.

The award takes its name from the Luddite movement of the 19th Century, which was composed of textile workers who opposed technological progress, fearing that material-making machines produced during the industrial revolution would put them out of a job.

According to the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, which gives the award, the title is given to those who want to "foil technological progress" by opposing advances in science and tech.

As the foundation says, "Neo-Luddites no longer wield sledgehammers, but they wield something much more powerful: bad ideas. For they work to convince policymakers and the public that innovation is the cause, not the solution to some of our biggest social and economic challenges, and therefore something to be thwarted."

"Indeed, the neo-Luddites have wide-ranging targets, including everything from genetically modified organisms to new Internet apps, artificial intelligence, and even productivity itself. In short, they seek a world that is largely free of risk, innovation, or uncontrolled change."

Unexpectedly, tech billionaire Elon Musk, who currently leads both an electric sports car company and a pioneering space transport firm, was nominated for the title, as part of the category of "alarmists" who "tout an artificial intelligence apocalypse."

Musk, along with Stephen Hawking and a number of other leading academics, were amongst the people who recently put their name to a letter warning the scientific community of the dangers of creating artificial intelligence.

The letter said it was important to research how to reap the benefits of artficial intelligence while avoiding its potential pitfalls - like the danger of a superintelligence harming humanity in the course of pursuing a goal.

Other nominees for the title, some of whom were given general labels rather than being named individually, included 'Advocates who seek a ban on 'killer robots'', US states who oppose automatic license plate readers, and California's governor, who is against putting RFID chips in drivers' licenses.

Voting for the title is open to the public, and the winner is expected to be announced in the coming weeks.

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