Geoffrey Hinton, Godfather of AI Leaves Google, Warns of Potential Dangers Ahead
Geoffrey Hinton, a pioneer in artificial intelligence (AI) referred to as “the Godfather of AI,” has left Google. He has joined a growing chorus of critics warning of the potential dangers of AI systems. In an interview last week, Dr. Hinton expressed concerns about the technology at the heart of chatbots like ChatGPT and warned that it could cause serious harm.
Hinton’s Journey: From Groundbreaker to Doomsayer
In 2012, Dr. Hinton and two of his graduate students at the University of Toronto created technology that became the intellectual foundation for the AI systems the tech industry’s most prominent companies believe are critical to their future. Google spent $44 million to acquire a company Dr. Hinton and his two students started. Their system led to the creation of increasingly powerful technologies, including new chatbots like ChatGPT and Google Bard. In 2018, Dr. Hinton and two other longtime collaborators received the Turing Award, often called “the Nobel Prize of computing,” for their work on neural networks.
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However, on Monday, Dr. Hinton, the Godfather of AI, officially joined a growing chorus of critics warning of the risks of generative artificial intelligence. This technology powers popular chatbots like ChatGPT. He said he quit his job at Google, where he has worked for over a decade, and became one of the most respected voices in the field, so he can freely speak out about the technology.
“This Stuff Could Get Smarter Than People” ~ Geoffrey Hinton.
Dr. Hinton believes AI systems are becoming increasingly dangerous as companies improve technology. He is worried that the internet will be flooded with false photos, videos, and text, and the average person will not be able to know what is true anymore. He is also concerned that AI technologies will upend the job market, with chatbots like ChatGPT potentially replacing paralegals, personal assistants, translators, and others who handle rote tasks.
However, his most significant concern is that future versions of the technology threaten humanity. He warns that as individuals and companies allow AI systems to generate and run their computer code independently, unexpected behavior may arise from the vast amounts of data they analyze. Dr. Hinton fears a day when genuinely autonomous weapons—those killer robots—become a reality. “The idea that this stuff could get smarter than people—a few people believed that,” he said. “But most people thought it was way off. And I thought it was way off. I thought it was 30 to 50 years or even longer away. I no longer think that.”
A Growing Chorus of Critics
Dr. Hinton is only one of many experts warning of the potential risks of AI systems. After the San Francisco start-up, OpenAI released a new version of ChatGPT in March, more than 1,000 technology leaders and researchers signed an open letter calling for a six-month moratorium on developing new systems because AI technologies pose “profound risks to society and humanity.” Several days later, 19 current and former leaders of the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence, a 40-year-old academic society, released their letter warning of the risks of AI.
Global Regulation Needed?
While many experts, including some of his students and colleagues, say that the potential risks of AI are hypothetical, the Godfather of AI believes that the race between Google, Microsoft, and other tech giants will escalate into a global race that will not stop without some international regulation.
Google’s chief scientist, Jeff Dean, responded to Dr. Hinton’s departure by stating that the company remains committed to a responsible approach to AI. He said the company continually learns to understand emerging risks while innovating boldly.
Dr. Geoffrey Hinton’s resignation from Google and his warning of the potential dangers of AI systems have reignited an essential conversation about the role of technology in society. As companies continue to improve their AI systems, they must consider the potential risks and work to mitigate them. At the same time, governments and regulatory bodies must step up to ensure that technology is developed and used responsibly. Only by working together can we realize the benefits of AI while minimizing its risks.