More than 1,100 professionals agree in an open letter that the race among AI labs poses ‘profound risks to society and humanity’ © AFP / Jim Watson
More than 1,100 AI researchers, tech luminaries, and other futurists have signed an open letter demanding a six-month moratorium on “giant AI experiments” since the text was posted by the nonprofit Future of Life Institute last week.
Notable signatories of the letter include Tesla CEO Elon Musk, Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, and transhumanist historian Yuval Noah Harari.
The correspondence warns that “AI systems with human-competitive intelligence can pose profound risks to society and humanity.” It also insists that rapidly advancing technology should be “planned for and managed with commensurate care and resources,” rather than allowing 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.”
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Rather than risk losing control of a potentially civilization-ending technology, stakeholders in the AI field should “jointly develop and implement a set of shared safety protocols for advanced AI design and development that are rigorously audited and overseen by independent outside experts,” the institute suggests, pausing the development until those protocols are in place. Safety “beyond a reasonable doubt” rather than innovation at all costs should be the goal, it said.
“Powerful AI systems should be developed only once we are confident that their effects will be positive and their risks will be manageable,” the letter continues, while developers should refocus their energies on “making today’s powerful state-of-the-art systems more accurate, safe, interpretable, transparent, robust, aligned, trustworthy and loyal.”
If the developers can’t govern themselves, governments must step in, creating regulatory bodies capable of reining in runaway systems, funding safety research, and softening the economic blow when super intelligent systems begin gobbling up human jobs in earnest, the letter states.
Musk has long warned about the dangers of AI, predicting in 2020 that the singularity – the point at which machine intelligence eclipses that of humans – would arrive by 2025 and that humans risk ending up as supercomputers’ pets. He initially proposed the Neuralink brain-computer interface as a tool to give humanity a competitive edge against AI.
The billionaire was also one of the founders of OpenAI, the company behind the breakthrough large language model ChatGPT. However, he left the company in 2018, dismissing it as a profit-milking venture co-opted by Microsoft. Musk’s rival (and Microsoft founder) Bill Gates, whose name was absent from the open letter as of Wednesday, has embraced OpenAI, recently declaring that “the Age of AI has begun.” ChatGPT now powers Microsoft’s Bing search engine. (RT)