Google exec: Artificial intelligence film death scenarios ‘one to two decades away’ 

Terminator-style artificial intelligence scenarios are just "one to two decades away", according to Google’s former chief executive.

Eric Schmidt, the former chief executive of Google and its parent company Alphabet, has said he believes AI technology is developing so quickly it may soon turn against humans.

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“All the movie-inspired death scenarios… I can confidently predict to you that they are one to two decades away," Mr Schmidt told a security conference in Munich.

But he added "let’s worry about them in a while", as he highlighted the opportunities AI afforded.

The fear of intelligent robots rising against their human creators has long occupied Hollywood’s imagination and was played out in the 1984 film The Terminator, in which a robot assassin disguises himself as a human.

Eric Schmidt, former executive chairman of Google owner AlphabetCredit:

The daunting scenario may not be far off, according to Mr Schmidt, who is now a fellow at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Mr Schmidt has previously discussed the rapid advances in AI technology and expressed concern over the "military aspirations" of countries like China and Russia when it came to AI weapons.

China has already begun work on a national AI programme and hopes to become the world leader in the technology in the next decade.

Mr Schmidt warned that Europe and the US lagged far behind the Chinese when it came to resource and investment in the field.

Elon Musk, the billionaire tech entrepreneur, has also voiced fears over the potential threat AI technology poses. 

"If you’re not concerned about AI safety, you should be. Vastly more risk than North Korea," he said last year.

However Mr Schmidt argued that the benefits AI brings to technology and medical advances outweigh concerns about the negative effects – and he insisted "humans will remain in charge of [AI] for the rest of time".

He said: "Everyone immediately then wants to talk about all the movie-inspired death scenarios, and I can confidently predict to you that they are one to two decades away.

"So let’s worry about them, but let’s worry about them in a while."

He went on to say that the technology had major flaws and would always be within the control of humans. 

He said: “I want to remind everyone these technologies [AI] have serious errors in them and they should not be used with life-critical decisions. 

"So I would not want to be in an airplane where the computer was making all the general intelligence decisions about flying it. The technology is just not reliable enough – there too many errors in its use. 

"It is advisory, it makes you smarter and so forth, but I wouldn’t put it in charge of command and control.”