Russian President Vladimir Putin asks when will AI 'eat us'

Russian President Vladimir Putin flags the risks of unbridled AIMICHAEL KLIMENTYEV/AFP/Getty Images

Russian President Vladimir Putin has expressed fears over the rise of artificial intelligence, asking how long before it consumes us.

Speaking during a tour of the Moscow headquarters of Russia's biggest technology firm Yandex, Putin asked the company chief Arkady Volozh when will AI "eat us". The startling question baffled Volozh, who was explaining the potential of AI, according to state-backed media outlet RT.

"I hope never," replied Volozh, who took a small pause before getting back into the groove, saying machines are better than humans in some areas.

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"It's not the first machine to be better than humans at something," he said. "An excavator digs better than we do with a shovel. But we don't get eaten by excavators. A car moves faster than we do..."

An unimpressed Putin, however, interjected: "They don't think" before allowing Volozh to get back to the speech noting the potential benefits of artificial intelligence.

An AI-backed robot -- Representational ImageREUTERS /Arnd Wiegmann

The ominous remark from Putin comes as leading tech luminaries continue to flag the risks associated with AI to keep it under check. Elon Musk has been the biggest advocate of regulating the development of AI-backed autonomous "killer robots".

This is not the first time Putin has expressed his thoughts on AI. Earlier this month, he said: "Artificial intelligence is the future, not only for Russia but for all humankind."

"It comes with colossal opportunities, but also threats that are difficult to predict," he said while talking to a group of students. "Whoever becomes the leader in this sphere will become the ruler of the world."

He also noted that Russia would share any know-how it acquires during the development of such technologies. "If we become leaders in this area, we will share this know-how with entire world, the same way we share our nuclear technologies today."

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