‘Godfather Of AI’ Warns Of Imminent Dangers

The man often called “Godfather of AI”, Geoffrey Hinton 75, has left his job with Google so he can speak freely about the potential technology dangers that he helped to create. He has expressed concerns over the flood of misinformation, the possibility for AI to upend the job market, and the “existential risk” posed by the creation of genuine  Digital Intelligence.

Hinton is a Canadian cognitive psychologist and computer scientist has now announced his departure from Google after a decade of working there, stating his real concerns about the risks of AI technology.

Prior to leaving, Hinton thought that real AI was 30-50 years away, and even possibly longer. However, in an CBS interview in March 2023, he said that “general-purpose AI may be fewer than 20 years away and could bring about changes comparable in scale with the Industrial Revolution or electricity.” And during a New York Times interview, Hinton explained his resignation from Google saying that he chose to leave the company to be able to “talk about the dangers of AI without considering how this impacts Google”. 

In 2023, neural networks are central to the creation of powerful generative AI tools including ChatGPT and Google’s Bard, the programs causing much concern throughout the technology industry.

Speaking to the BBC Hinton said that some of the dangers of AI chatbots are “quite scary,” and he said, “Right now, they’re not more intelligent than us, as far as I can tell. But I think they may soon be.” Hinton explained that chatbots have the ability to learn independently and share knowledge. This means that whenever one copy acquires new information, it is automatically disseminated to the entire group. This allows AI chatbots to have the capability to accumulate knowledge far beyond the capacity of any individual.

In an interview with MIT Technology Review, Hinton also pointed to “bad actors” that may use AI in ways that could have detrimental impacts on society, such as manipulating elections or instigating violence.

Hinton's fears over the consequences of AI for both industry and people come at the same time IBM is expected to pause hiring for back-office roles, with up to 7,800 jobs possibly replaced by AI in the coming years, and US lawmakers proposed a new bill preventing AI from single-handedly launching nuclear weapons.

MIT Technology Review:   Smithsonian Inst:    I-HLS:     BBC:    NY Times:    Guardian:    Metro:   Independent:

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