Elon Musk has revealed that Tesla, his electric automobile company, is developing its own custom chips for its driverless cars.
Musk revealed the effort at a Tesla party that took place at the intelligence conference NIPS. Attendees at the party told The Register that Musk said "I wanted to make it clear that Tesla is serious about AI, both on the software and hardware fronts. We are developing custom AI hardware chips".
Musk offered no details of his company's plans, but did tell the party that “Jim is developing specialized AI hardware that we think will be the best in the world."
"Jim" is Jim Keller, a well-known chip engineer who was lead architect on a range of silicon at AMD and Apple and joined Tesla in 2016. Keller later joined Musk on a panel discussing AI at the Tesla Party alongside Andrej Karpathy, Tesla’s Director of AI and chaired by Shivon Zilis, a partner and founding member at Bloomberg Beta, a VC firm.
Musk is well known for his optimism about driverless cars and pessimism about whether AI can operate safely. At the party he voiced a belief that “about half of new cars built ten years from now will be autonomous”. He added his opinion that artificial general intelligence (AGI) will arrive in about seven or eight years.
Stephen Merity, an AI researcher at Salesforce and attendee at the party said that Musk's belief that AGI machines replacing human workers would be a problem before drivers lose their jobs to self-driving vehicles was an “insanely optimistic estimate”.
Even if half of all new produced vehicles are autonomous, it's 2%/year that would be pushed to unemployed. @elonmusk thinks AGI is going to be an issue before self driving unemployment - thinks five to ten years before AGI beats humans generally. Insanely optimistic estimate O_o— Smerity @ NIPS2017 (@Smerity) December 8, 2017
In his remarks, Musk acknowledged the fact that he has repeatedly “[sounded] the alarm bell again and again about the dangers of AI” and people have responded with “there he goes again” and "stop being a buzzkill".
“But I think there are a lot of ways that AI can be useful short of being god-like," he concluded.
The Register has sought details from Tesla and will update this story if they are forthcoming. ®