The ‘Godfather of Artificial Intelligence’ has sensationally resigned from Google and warned the technology could upend life as we know it.
Geoffrey Hinton, 75, is credited with creating the technology that became the bedrock of A.I. systems like ChatGPT and Google Bard.
But the Turing prize winner now says a part of him regrets helping to make the systems, that he fears could prompt the proliferation of misinformation and replace people in the workforce.
He said he had to tell himself excuses like ‘if I didn’t build it, someone else would have’ to prevent himself from being overwhelmed by guilt.
He drew comparisons with the ‘father of the atomic bomb’ Robert Oppenheimer, who was reportedly distraught by his invention and dedicated the rest of his life to stopping its proliferation.
Geoffrey Hinton, 75, who is credited as the ‘Godfather of Artificial Technology’, said that a part of him now regrets helping to make the systems. He is pictured above speaking at a summit hosted by media company Thomson Reuters in Toronto, Canada, in 2017
There is a great AI divide in Silicon Valley. Brilliant minds are split about the progress of the systems – some say it will improve humanity and others fear the technology will destroy it
Speaking to the New York Times about his resignation, he warned that in the near future, A.I. would flood the internet with false photos, videos and texts.
These would be of a standard, he added, where the average person would ‘not be able to know what is true anymore’.
The technology also posed a serious risk to ‘drudge’ work, he said, and could upend the careers of people working as paralegals, personal assistants and translators.
Some workers already say they are using it to cover multiple jobs for them, undertaking tasks such as creating marketing materials and transcribing Zoom meetings so that they do not have to listen.
‘Maybe what is going on in these systems, is actually a lot better than what is going on in the [human] brain,’ he said, explaining his fears.
‘The idea that this stuff could actually get smarter than people — a few people believed that.
‘But most people thought it was way off. And I thought it was way off. I thought it was 30 to 50 years or even longer away.
‘Obviously, I no longer think that.’
Asked about why he had helped develop a potentially dangerous technology, he said: ‘I console myself with the normal excuse: If I hadn’t done it, somebody else would have.’
Hinton added that he had previously paraphrased Oppenheimer when posed with this question in the past, saying: ‘When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it.’
Hinton decided to quit Google last month after a decade at the tech giant amid the proliferation of A.I. technologies.
He had a long conversation with the chief executive of Google’s parent company Alphabet, Sundar Pichai, before departing — although it is not clear what was said.
In a broadside to his former employer, he accused Google of not being a ‘proper steward’ for A.I. technologies.
In the past, the company has kept potentially dangerous technologies under wraps, he said. But it had now thrown caution to the wind as it competes with Microsoft — which added a ChatBot to its search engine, Bing, last month.
Google’s chief scientist, Jeff Dean, said in a statement: ‘We remain committed to a responsible approach to A.I. We’re continually learning to understand emerging risks while also innovating boldly.’
His warning comes as Silicon Valley descends into a civil war over the advancement of artificial intelligence — with the world’s greatest minds split over whether it will elevate or destroy humanity.
The fears of AI come as experts predict it will achieve singularity by 2045, which is when the technology surpasses human intelligence to which we cannot control it
Elon Musk, Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak and the late Stephen Hawking are among the most famous critics of A.I. who believe it poses a ‘profound risk to society and humanity’ and could have ‘catastrophic effects’.
Last month they even called for a pause in the ‘dangerous race’ to roll out advanced A.I., saying more risk assessments were needed.
But Bill Gates, My Pichai and futurist Ray Kurzweil are on the other side of the debate, hailing the technology as our time’s ‘most important’ innovation.
They argue it could cure cancer, solve climate change and boost productivity.
Hinton has not previously added his voice to the debate, saying he did not want to speak out until he had formally left Google.
He surged to fame in 2012 when at the University of Toronto, Canada, alongside two students, he designed a neural network that could analyze thousands of photos and teach itself to identify common objects such as flowers, dogs and cars.
Google later spent $44million to acquire the company that was started by Hinton based on the technology.
The release of AI bots like ChatGPT (stock image) has prompted calls from many circles for the technology to be reviewed because of the risk it poses for humanity
Advanced A.I. systems already available include ChatGPT which now has more than a billion people signed up after its release in November. Data shows that it also has as many as 100million active monthly users.
Launched by OpenAI, based in San Francisco, the platform has become an instant success worldwide.
The chatbot is a large language model trained on massive text data, allowing it to generate eerily human-like text in response to a given prompt.
The public uses ChatGPT to write research papers, books, news articles, emails and other text-based work and while many see it more like a virtual assistant, many brilliant minds see it as the end of humanity.
If humans lose control of A.I. then it will be considered to have reached singularity, which means it has surpassed human intelligence and has independent thinking.
A.I. would no longer need or listen to humans, allowing it to steal nuclear codes, create pandemics and spark world wars.
DeepAI founder Kevin Baragona, who signed the letter, told DailyMail.com: ‘It’s almost akin to a war between chimps and humans.
The humans obviously win since we’re far smarter and can leverage more advanced technology to defeat them.
‘If we’re like the chimps, then the A.I. will destroy us, or we’ll become enslaved to it.’
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