Artificial intelligence threatens extinction, experts say in new warning

Worries about artificial intelligence systems outsmarting humans wild have intensified with the rise of a new generation of highly capable AI chatbots


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OpenAI's CEO Sam Altman, the founder of ChatGPT and creator of OpenAI speaks at University College London on May 24, 2023. — AP
OpenAI's CEO Sam Altman, the founder of ChatGPT and creator of OpenAI speaks at University College London on May 24, 2023. — AP

By AP

Published: Tue 30 May 2023, 7:59 PM

Scientists and tech industry leaders, including high-level executives at Microsoft and Google, issued a new warning on Tuesday about the perils that artificial intelligence poses to humankind.

“Mitigating the risk of extinction from AI should be a global priority alongside other societal-scale risks such as pandemics and nuclear war,” said the statement posted online.

Sam Altman, CEO of ChatGPT maker OpenAI, and Geoffrey Hinton, a computer scientist known as the godfather of artificial intelligence, were among the hundreds of leading figures who signed the statement, which was posted on the Centre for AI Safety's website.

Worries about artificial intelligence systems outsmarting humans and running wild have intensified with the rise of a new generation of highly capable AI chatbots such as ChatGPT.

The latest warning was intentionally succinct — just a single sentence — to encompass a broad coalition of scientists who might not agree on the most likely risks or the best solutions to prevent them, said Dan Hendrycks, executive director of the San Francisco-based Center for AI Safety.

“There’s a variety of people from all top universities in various different fields who are concerned by this and think that this is a global priority,” Hendrycks said. “So we had to get people to sort of come out of the closet, so to speak, on this issue, because many were sort of silently speaking among each other.”

More than 1,000 researchers and technologists, including Elon Musk, had signed a much longer letter earlier this year calling for a six-month pause on AI development because, they said, it poses “profound risks to society and humanity.”

Countries around the world are scrambling to come up with regulations for the developing technology, with the European Union blazing the trail with its AI Act expected to be approved later this year.


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