In 22 Words, Tech Leaders Warn of Colossal AI Risks

The statement compares AI danger to pandemics and nuclear weapons
By Steve Huff,  Newser Staff
Posted May 30, 2023 1:40 PM CDT
Tech Leaders' New Warning: AI Presents 'Risk of Extinction'
The OpenAI logo is seen on a mobile phone in front of a computer screen displaying output from ChatGPT.   (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer, File)

A host of tech industry leaders published a stark warning about the real dangers of artificial intelligence Tuesday. The statement published by the nonprofit Center for AI Safety reads, "Mitigating the risk of extinction from AI should be a global priority alongside other societal-scale risks such as pandemics and nuclear war." An explanatory preface says in part that "it can be difficult to voice concerns about some of advanced AI’s most severe risks," and that this "succinct statement" is meant to "open up discussion."

Signatories include Dr. Geoffrey Hinton, an AI pioneer who left a consultancy with Google when he felt the company threw caution to the wind to compete with ChatGPT, and OpenAI CEO Sam Altman. The New York Times notes that other signees include Yoshua Bengio, who along with Hinton is considered a "godfather" of artificial intelligence, and Google DeepMind chief exec Demis Hassabis. The Times also points out that this statement comes at a pivotal moment, when concerns over AI's incredible growth are causing fears of how it could be used to "spread misinformation and propaganda" in addition to eliminating jobs.

This is the second such warning from major players in the AI sphere; a lengthier letter published in March was signed by the likes of Tesla co-founder and Twitter owner Elon Musk. That statement called for a six-month "pause" in AI development, because "[powerful] AI systems should be developed only once we are confident that their effects will be positive and their risks will be manageable." Some American politicians have concerns of their own: Just two weeks ago, Republican Sen. John Barrasso of Wyoming asked the Secretary of Interior and Secretary of Energy to block staff access to AI tools for security reasons. (Read more artificial intelligence stories.)

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