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Elon Musk thinks computers drive better than you do

Tesla CEO Elon Musk has a driverless vision of the future. At a conference held by computer chipmaker Nvidia Tuesday, Musk said that one day, legislators "may outlaw driven cars because they're too dangerous."

While in the near term, lawmakers will likely resist self-driving cars, he said, in the "distant future," we'll all be chauffeured around by them.

"We'll take autonomous cars for granted in quite a short time," he said in a conversation with Nvidia CEO and co-founder Jen-Hsun Huang. "I almost view it as a solved problem. We know what to do, and we'll be there in a few years."

Musk drew an analogy to elevators, which were operated by people until engineers developed circuitry that could reliably get a lift to the right floor without human intervention. "Cars will be like that," he said.

Musk seems to have a lot of faith in the artificial intelligence that will make autonomous cars a regular everyday thing. It is interesting given that in the past, he has likened A.I. to "summoning the demon," and has said that it's "potentially more dangerous than nukes."

By transitive property, if human drivers are more dangerous than A.I. cars, and A.I. is more dangerous than nuclear weapons, then humans must be more dangerous than nuclear weapons, right? That sounds about right. But, although he cautioned about the increased threat of hacking as cars get more autonomous, he said the vehicles should be safer overall. "I don't think we have to worry about autonomous cars, because that's sort of like a narrow form of A.I.," he reasoned, according to the Verge.

Musk, for all his fears of A.I., has a vested interest in its success. He was at Nvidia's conference to talk about autonomous driving and the environment surrounding the company's just announced DRIVE PX self-driving car computer learning system. The computer is powered by Nvidia's Tegra processor, which also can be found in Tesla cars. Tesla introduced "autopilot" features for its S model sedan last fall that can autonomously steer and brake.

Musk has said in the past that while Telsa has lagged in automation, it will eventually leapfrog other carmakers' capabilities.

  • Amanda Schupak

    Amanda Schupak is the science and technology editor at CBSNews.com