Alexis Ohanian: Elon Musk’s AI warnings are better as a Black Mirror episode

Alexis Ohanian cofounded Reddit in 2005. 


Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian isn’t worried about the dark dark future of artificial intelligence that Elon Musk warns is coming. He’d rather the world consider implications of AI that are already here. 

Musk, a billionaire known for his moonshot-style ventures, such as Tesla and SpaceX, has sounded warnings about artificial intelligence, saying it’s more dangerous than nuclear weapons and could lead to an “immortal dictactor.”

“Elon is writing a great screenplay for a Black Mirror episode,” Ohanian said Monday during an appearance at the Business Insider Ignition conference in New York. “I’m not concerned about a T-800 walking around here and enslaivng us” he said, referring to the famed cybernetic organism from the Terminator. 

Rather than worrying about “robot overlords,” Ohanian said society should be grappling with implications of AI that are here already. He raised the idea that facial recognition technology used for cashierless shopping could be misused in scenarios like building social credit scores in China.

“We’re not even equipped as a society to have that conversation yet, and the technology is actually here,” he said. 

Ohanian is perhaps best known as the cofounder of Reddit, one of the most trafficked sites on the web and often referred to as “the front page of the internet.” He was once called the “mayor of the internet,” and was Reddit’s executive chairman until February, when he stepped away from daily duties to focus attention on Initialized Capital, his early-stage venture firm.

Since its founding in 2005, Reddit has struggled to manage bad behavior among some of its users, particularly extremist conservatives, conspiracy theorists and trolls. When Ohanian stepped away from Reddit earlier this year, he said the company was “in a much better place and has a great team in place.”

Ohanian is also married to tennis pro Serena Williams and has become a fixture in her social media usage along with their daughter, Alexis Olympia.

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