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Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Ego, Fear and Money: How the A.I. Fuse Was Lit

The people who were most afraid of the risks of artificial intelligence decided they should be the ones to build it. Then distrust fueled a spiraling competition.

Cade MetzKaren WeiseNico Grant and 

Elon Musk celebrated his 44th birthday in July 2015 at a three-day party thrown by his wife at a California wine country resort dotted with cabins. It was family and friends only, with children racing around the upscale property in Napa Valley.

This was years before Twitter became X and Tesla had a profitable year. Mr. Musk and his wife, Talulah Riley — an actress who played a beautiful but dangerous robot on HBO’s science fiction series “Westworld” — were a year from throwing in the towel on their second marriage. Larry Page, a party guest, was still the chief executive of Google. And artificial intelligence had pierced the public consciousness only a few years before, when it was used to identify cats on YouTube — with 16 percent accuracy.

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THE A.I. RACE: This is the first article in a series about modern artificial intelligence.
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