Canadian scientist quits Google, warns of AI threat
As if we don’t have enough to worry about from man-made threats to humanity, now several so-called Godfathers of artificial intelligence (AI) are sounding the alarm over the technology they helped create – and one expert is so worried he just left his job developing AI for Google.
University of Toronto professor Geoffrey Hinton, 75, told the BBC some of the dangers of AI chatbots were “quite scary.”
“Right now, they’re not more intelligent than us, as far as I can tell. But I think they soon may be,” he said.
In the New York Times article, Hinton referred to “bad actors” who would try to use AI for “bad things.”
He told the BBC, “You can imagine, for example, some bad actor like [Russian President Vladimir] Putin decided to give robots the ability to create their own sub-goals.” The scientist warned that this eventually might “create sub-goals like ‘I need to get more power.'”
Fellow Canadian scientist, Yoshua Bengio, who along with Geoffrey Hinton and Yann LeCun won the 2018 Turing Award for their work on deep learning, has joined the call to pause what they call, “giant AI experiments.”
An open letter which they signed in March along with other experts including Elon Musk, warned, “recent months have seen AI labs locked in an out-of-control race to develop and deploy ever more powerful digital minds that no one – not even their creators – can understand, predict, or reliably control.”
Wired Magazine says some scientists go ever further. “Eliezer Yudkowsky, a researcher at the nonprofit Machine Intelligence Research Institute, has claimed in a recent TED talk, as well as in an article for Time, that AI is on course to kill everyone on earth and that nations should be willing to use deadly force to ensure the development of AI comes to a stop.”
“I listened to him thinking he was going to be crazy. I don’t think he’s crazy at all,” Hinton said to the BBC in response to Yudkowsky. “But, okay, it’s not helpful to talk about bombing data centers.”
Hinton has been in demand by media outlets because of his stature in the AI field, and his alarming predictions.
Speaking to the CBC, Hinton added a note of optimism. “My one hope is that, because if we allow it to take over it will be bad for all of us, we could get the U.S. and China to agree, like we did with nuclear weapons,” said Hinton. “We’re all the in same boat with respect to existential threats, so we all ought to be able to co-operate on trying to stop it.”