Renowned artificial intelligence (AI) researcher Geoffrey Hinton, often referred to as one of the “godfathers of AI,” has called on governments to intervene and ensure that machines do not gain control over society. Speaking at the Collision tech conference in Toronto, Hinton emphasized the need for a comprehensive understanding of how AI could attempt to seize control before it surpasses human intelligence.
Hinton, who recently left Google to speak more openly about the risks associated with AI, expressed his concerns, emphasizing that the dangers should not be dismissed as science fiction or fear-mongering.
“Before AI is smarter than us, I think the people developing it should be encouraged to put a lot of work into understanding how it might try and take control away,” Hinton stated during the conference. He further highlighted the importance of striking a balance between the numerous individuals working to improve AI and those dedicated to finding ways to prevent its dominance.
Addressing an audience of over 30,000 attendees, including investors, tech workers, and startup founders, Hinton stressed that the risks associated with AI should not be disregarded. He emphasized the need to proactively consider and prepare for the real risks AI presents, urging stakeholders to take the matter seriously.
“It is a real risk that we must think about, and we need to figure out in advance how to deal with it,” Hinton insisted, underlining the urgency of addressing AI’s potential risks.
Hinton also highlighted that AI poses threats beyond just the risk of a takeover. He expressed concerns about the exacerbation of existing social inequalities, with AI’s benefits and productivity gains primarily benefiting the wealthy. According to Hinton, this disparity in wealth distribution would have adverse effects on society.
“The wealth isn’t going to go to the people doing the work. It will go into making the rich richer and not the poorer, and that’s very bad for society,” he cautioned.
Additionally, Hinton drew attention to the problem of fake news generated by AI-powered systems, such as ChatGPT. He suggested the possibility of labeling AI-generated content as fake, similar to how central banks watermark currency. While acknowledging the technical challenges of implementing such a solution, Hinton emphasized the importance of attempting to mark fake content as fake.
“It’s very important to try, for example, to mark everything that is fake as fake. Whether we can do that technically, I don’t know,” Hinton remarked, acknowledging the complexities involved.
While Geoffrey Hinton focused on the risks and challenges of AI, other discussions at the conference showcased a more optimistic outlook, emphasizing the opportunities presented by AI advancements.
Venture capitalist Sarah Guo suggested that concerns about AI as an existential threat were premature, likening them to “talking about overpopulation on Mars.”
Dr. Geoffrey Hinton’s remarks at the Collision tech conference highlight the pressing need for a comprehensive understanding of AI’s potential risks and the importance of proactive measures to address them. As AI continues to advance, it is crucial for governments, researchers, and industry stakeholders to collaborate in ensuring the responsible development and deployment of AI technologies.