Monday, Dec. 04, 2023|
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Scientists and tech industry leaders, including high-level executives at Microsoft and Google, issued a new warning Tuesday about the perils that artificial intelligence poses to humankind.
“Mitigating the risk of extinction from AI should be a global priority alongside other societal-scale risks such as pandemics and nuclear war,” the statement said.
Sam Altman, CEO of ChatGPT maker OpenAI, and Geoffrey Hinton, a computer scientist known as the godfather of artificial intelligence, were among the hundreds of leading figures who signed the statement, which was posted on the Center for AI Safety’s website.
Worries about artificial intelligence systems outsmarting humans and running wild have intensified with the rise of a new generation of highly capable AI chatbots such as ChatGPT. It has sent countries around the world scrambling to come up with regulations for the developing technology, with the European Union blazing the trail with its AI Act expected to be approved later this year.
The latest warning was intentionally succinct — just a single sentence — to encompass a broad coalition of scientists who might not agree on the most likely risks or the best solutions to prevent them, said Dan Hendrycks, executive director of the San Francisco-based nonprofit Center for AI Safety, which organized the move.
“There’s a variety of people from all top universities in various different fields who are concerned by this and think that this is a global priority,” Hendrycks said. “So we had to get people to sort of come out of the closet, so to speak, on this issue because many were sort of silently speaking among each other.”
More than 1,000 researchers and technologists, including Elon Musk, had signed a much longer letter earlier this year calling for a six-month pause on AI development, saying it poses “profound risks to society and humanity.”
That letter was a response to OpenAI’s release of a new AI model, GPT-4, but leaders at OpenAI, its partner Microsoft and rival Google didn’t sign on and rejected the call for a voluntary industry pause.
By contrast, the latest statement was endorsed by Microsoft’s chief technology and science officers, as well as Demis Hassabis, CEO of Google’s AI research lab DeepMind, and two Google executives who lead its AI policy efforts. The statement doesn’t propose specific remedies but some, including Altman, have proposed an international regulator along the lines of the U.N. nuclear agency.
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