Stephen Hawking and Elon Musk sign responsible AI research pledge for 'maximum societal benefit'

Stephen Hawking has previously issued AI warnings

Hundreds of scientists and engineers have signed an open letter calling for researchers to focus the development of artificial intellgience (AI) on the betterment of society while staying aware of the technology’s possible "pitfalls".

Technology experts from Microsoft, Harvard, Oxford, Google and MIT, boosted by Stephen Hawking and Elon Musk, founder of SpaceX, were among hundreds of signatories on a letter from the Future of Life Institute pledging to "maximise the societal benefit of AI" while minimising its potential risk to humanity.

Hundreds of experts put their mark on the letter weeks after Professor Stephen Hawking warned that AI could "supersede" humans if researchers do not responsibly develop the technology.

The pledge reads: “The potential benefits [of AI] are huge, since everything that civilization has to offer is a product of human intelligence; we cannot predict what we might achieve when this intelligence is magnified by the tools AI may provide. It is important to research how to reap its benefits while avoiding potential pitfalls.

“We recommend expanded research aimed at ensuring that increasingly capable AI systems are robust and beneficial: our AI systems must do what we want them to do.”

The warning comes as AI-powered products - such as Google’s self-driving car - are being primed to hit the market in the coming years.

The letter emerged after the latest generation of smart technology was showcased last week at CES 2015 in Las Vegas.

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