Tesla and Twitter CEO Elon Musk and Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak were among several tech experts that called for a pause on AI development.
In a letter, the experts warned of potential risks to society and humanity as tech giants such as Google and Microsoft race to build AI programs that can learn independently.
The warning comes after the release of GPT-4 (Generative Pre-trained Transformer), an AI program developed by OpenAI with backing from Microsoft.
“Powerful AI systems should only be developed once we are confident that their effects will be positive and their risks will be manageable,” the letter said.
Elon Musk: AI labs locked in an out-of-control race
The letter says “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.”
“We call on all AI labs to immediately pause for at least 6 months the training of AI systems more powerful than GPT-4,” it adds.
“This pause should be public and verifiable, and include all key actors. If such a pause cannot be enacted quickly, governments should step in and institute a moratorium.”
“Contemporary AI systems are now becoming human-competitive at general tasks, and we must ask ourselves: Should we let machines flood our information channels with propaganda and untruth?” the letter read.
“Should we automate away all the jobs, including the fulfilling ones? Should we develop non-human minds that might eventually outnumber, outsmart, obsolete and replace us? Should we risk loss of control of our civilization?”
The letter added, “Such decisions must not be delegated to unelected tech leaders.”
Concerns about potential abuses of the technology
The letter was organized by the non-profit Future of Life Institute — which is primarily funded by Musk according to the EU’s transparency register — and follows attempts by the UK and EU to work out how to regulate this rapidly advancing technology.
The letter’s signatures included big names such as Stability AI CEO Emad Mostaque, researchers at Alphabet-owned DeepMind, and AI heavyweights Yoshua Bengio and Stuart Russel.
EU lawmakers have also been in talks regarding the need for AI rules, amid fears that it could be used to spread harmful disinformation and make entire jobs unnecessary.
AI ethicists have also raised concerns about potential abuses of the technology, such as plagiarism and misinformation.
In the Future of Life Institute letter, technology leaders and academics said AI systems with human-competitive intelligence pose “profound risks to society and humanity.”
“AI research and development should be refocused on making today’s powerful, state-of-the-art systems more accurate, safe, interpretable, transparent, robust, aligned, trustworthy, and loyal,” they said.
Related: Artificial Intelligence Will ‘Likely’ Destroy Humans, Researchers Say
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