Tech policy group brands Elon Musk a ‘Luddite’ for daring to question the future of AI

When it comes to listing people who are enemies of the future, Elon Musk would seem to be the last person to make the cut. I mean, the guy helped create PayPal to start a revolution in digital payments. He’s running Tesla, which is trying to start the electric car revolution. And he’s running SpaceX, which is trying to revolutionize space exploration. So it was a bit surprising to see the latest press release from The Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, a “nonprofit, nonpartisan research and educational institute focusing on the intersection of technological innovation and public policy.” From VentureBeat Customers don’t just get irritated when you screw up cross-channel personalization. They jump ship. Find out how to save your bacon on this free research-based webinar with Insight’s Andrew Jones. The ITIF is running its annual  Luddite Award , whose goal is to “highlight the year’s most egregious efforts to foil technological innovation and progress.” The first of 10 nominees, according to the press release: “Alarmists, even including respected luminaries such as Elon Musk and Stephen Hawking, touting an artificial intelligence apocalypse.” Such a designation seems even more silly in light of the recent announcement that Musk had joined other tech leaders in creating the OpenAI initiative to foster thoughtful development of AI. In fact, the inclusion of Musk reflects more on the hard-line that tech orthodoxy has taken in the U.S. Anyone who dares to even hint at the slightest restriction or regulation that limits tech companies from doing whatever the hell they want to do is an enemy of the future. Hawking gets name-checked a second time for also wanting a ban on “killer robots.” Vermont is terrible for limiting automatic license plate readers. Europe, China, and others had the gall to back taxi drivers over car-sharing passengers. “Technological innovation is the wellspring of human progress, providing higher living standards, improved health, a cleaner environment, increased access to information, and many other benefits,” the ITIF writes. “Yet a wide array of interests today stubbornly oppose technological progress, just as the infamous Ned Ludd did in the early 19th century when he led a movement to destroy mechanized looms.” With massive technological change sweeping over the planet, it would seem entirely reasonable for people to pause and ask whether the benefits outweigh the disruption. But in the U.S. tech-libertarian mindset, this is crazy talk. All change is good, the future will always be better than the past, and technology will only improve everything it touches. When you’ve started lumping in Musk with Ned Ludd, then all you’ve done is expose just how extreme that philosophy has become.