Geoffrey Hinton, often called the “godfather of AI” due to his pioneering work in neural networks, has made a startling admission. He has revealed in a recent interview with The New York Times that he has left Google, the company he has worked for over a decade, due to his concerns about the dangerous implications of the very technology he helped create. Hinton’s work in AI won him the prestigious Turing Award, considered the most distinguished prize in computer science.
REGRETS OVER LIFE’S WORK
In his interview with NYT, Hinton admits that a part of him regrets his life’s work. “I console myself with the normal excuse: If I hadn’t done it, somebody else would have,” he says. “It is hard to see how you can prevent the bad actors from using it for bad things,” he adds.
Hinton’s departure from Google has come at a critical moment when industry experts are worried about the explosive rise of generative AI systems like OpenAI’s ChatGPT and the capabilities of its latest GPT-4 model. Over 1,000 tech leaders, including Elon Musk, recently signed an open letter calling for a moratorium on developing anything more advanced. Hinton’s warning adds to the growing concern that we are at a “pivotal moment” for AI.
THE AI ARMS RACE
Hinton considered Google to be a “proper steward” of AI until last year when things started to go downhill. Microsoft, which has invested billions in OpenAI, released its Bing AI search engine powered by GPT-4. This posed a direct threat to Google’s dominance in search technology, and it has been rushing to develop an AI-integrated search of its own.
The AI arms race is not just a threat to people’s jobs, according to Hinton. He worries that it will lead to an internet so flooded by fake images and text that no one will “be able to know what is true anymore.” He sees this as an immediate threat that needs to be addressed.
THE AI THAT’S SMARTER THAN HUMANS
Hinton’s real concern, however, is that the day when AI gets smarter than humans and starts augmenting itself may dawn on us sooner than we think. “The idea that this stuff could actually get smarter than people — a few people believed that,” Hinton says. “But most people thought it was way off. And I thought it was way off,” he continues. “I thought it was 30 to 50 years or even longer away. Obviously, I no longer think that.”
Hinton’s warning should not be taken lightly, considering his stature in the world of AI. The development of AI has the potential to revolutionize the world in a positive way, but it is also fraught with risks that need to be addressed. It is crucial that tech leaders and policymakers come together to address these risks and prevent the misuse of AI technology. As Hinton puts it, “we need to ensure that the technology is used for good, and not for evil.”
Originally published on Medium.