Godfather of artificial intelligence quits Google, warns of technology’s dangers

A prominent computer scientist, frequently referred to as “the godfather of artificial intelligence,” has resigned from Google to voice his concerns about the potential dangers of the technology, according to yesterday’s US media reports. Geoffrey Hinton, known for creating a foundational technology for AI systems, expressed to The New York Times that advancements in the field could pose “profound risks to society and humanity.”

Hinton mentioned the significant progress made in AI technology within the last five years and warned about the frightening future implications if the current rate of advancement continues. He believes that the intense competition between technology giants is pushing companies to release new AI technologies at a perilous pace, endangering jobs and perpetuating misinformation.

“It is hard to see how you can prevent the bad actors from using it for bad things,” Hinton told the Times.

In 2022, both Google and OpenAI, the start-up responsible for the well-known AI chatbot ChatGPT, began constructing systems that processed enormous quantities of data. Hinton suggested that the ability of these systems to analyse such vast amounts of information could potentially surpass human intelligence in some aspects.

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“Maybe what is going on in these systems is actually a lot better than what is going on in the brain,” Hinton told the publication.

Though AI has been employed to support human labour, Hinton cautioned about the possible job losses resulting from expanding chatbots like ChatGPT. He told the Times that while AI can “take away the drudge work,” it might “take away more than that.” Hinton also voiced concerns about the dissemination of misinformation generated by AI, suggesting that the average individual “will not be able to know what is true anymore.”

Hinton had informed Google of his resignation in the previous month, as reported by the Times. Jeff Dean, Google AI’s lead scientist, expressed gratitude towards Hinton in a statement to the US media, saying, “As one of the first companies to publish AI Principles, we remain committed to a responsible approach to AI. We’re continually learning to understand emerging risks while also innovating boldly.”

In March, over 1,000 individuals, including tech billionaire Elon Musk and Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, signed an open letter urging a halt in the development of AI systems to provide time to ensure their safety. The letter was prompted by the release of GPT-4, a significantly more powerful version of the technology utilised by ChatGPT. Although Hinton did not sign the letter at the time, he later mentioned to The New York Times that scientists should refrain from further scaling up the technology until proper control can be established.

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