Artificial intelligence could lead to the destruction of humanity, some of the biggest names in tech have warned.
A dramatic statement signed by international experts said AI should be a priority alongside other extinction risks such as nuclear war and pandemics.
Signers include dozens of academics, senior executives from companies like Google DeepMind, co-founder of Skype, and Sam Altman, CEO of ChatGPT maker OpenAI.
Another signer is Geoffrey Hinton, sometimes dubbed the “Godfather of AI,” who recently resigned from his job at Google. He said that “bad actors” would use new AI technologies to harm others and that the tools he helped develop could spell the end of humanity.
The brief statement said: “Cramping the risk of extinction from AI should be a global priority alongside other societal risks such as pandemics and nuclear war.”
Sam Altman, (pictured) CEO of ChatGPT maker OpenAI, signed the statement along with dozens of tech CEOs and academics
dr Hinton, who has spent his career researching the uses of AI technology and received the Turing Award in 2018, recently told the New York Times that the advances in AI technology over the past five years have been “scary”.
He told the BBC he wanted to talk about “the existential risk of what happens when these things get smarter than us”.
The computer scientist warned: “Given the pace of progress, we expect things to get better quite quickly.”
The British-Canadian researcher added that in the ‘worst case scenario’ a ‘bad player like Putin’ could unleash AI technology by letting it create its own ‘sub-goals’ – including goals like ‘I need more power.’ .
Today’s statement was published on the website of the Center for AI Safety — a San Francisco-based nonprofit dedicated to “reducing societal risks from AI.”
It said AI in warfare could be “extremely harmful” as it could be used to develop new chemical weapons and improve air combat.
The Center for AI Safety also warns that “AI-generated misinformation” could be used to influence elections through “large-scale, tailored disinformation campaigns.”
This could lead to countries and political parties using AI technology to generate “extremely compelling arguments that evoke strong emotional responses” to educate people about their “political beliefs, ideologies and narratives.”
dr Geoffrey Hinton (pictured) also signed the statement after warning that AI technology posed an “existential risk”.
It adds that the widespread adoption of AI could also lead to society becoming “completely dependent on machines, similar to the scenario portrayed in the movie WALL-E.”
This, in turn, could result in people becoming “economically irrelevant” as AI is used to automate jobs, meaning people have little incentive to acquire knowledge or skills.”
A World Economic Forum report this month warned that 83 million jobs will disappear by 2027 due to the introduction of AI technology. Jobs such as bank clerks, secretaries and postal workers could all be replaced, the report said.
However, it is also claimed that the advent of AI technology will create 69 million new jobs.
That comes as BT unveiled plans earlier this month to cut 55,000 jobs by 2030, including 10,000 due to automation through AI technology. IBM separately announced that 7,800 jobs could be replaced by artificial intelligence over the next five years.
In March, investment banking giant Goldman Sachs poses a threat to around 300 million full-time jobs around the world, including two-thirds of all jobs in the US and Europe.
OpenAI chief Sam Altman earlier this month called on the US Congress to start regulating AI technology to prevent “significant harm to the world.”
Lord Rees, the British Astronomer Royal who signed the statement, told the Mail: “I’m less concerned about a super-intelligent ‘takeover’ and more concerned about the risk of over-reliance on large, interconnected systems.”
“These can lead to malfunctions due to hidden ‘bugs’ and failures can be difficult to repair.”
In March, technology experts including Elon Musk urged scientists to halt the development of AI technology to ensure it does not threaten humanity
“Widespread failures of power grids, internet, etc. can lead to a catastrophic collapse of society,” Lord Rees said.
The warning follows a similar open letter published in March by technology experts, including billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk, urging scientists to halt AI development to ensure it does not threaten humanity.
AI has already been used to blur the lines between fact and fiction, such as through “deepfake” photos and videos purportedly of famous people.
In April, an AI-generated image of the pope in a down jacket went viral on the internet after being created by Chicago utility worker Pablo Xavier, 31, using Midjourney AI.
Fake images of Donald Trump’s arrest in New York also circulated on social media in March.
AI-generated videos showing female Twitch stars in deepfake porn videos have also surfaced the internet in recent months, while a fake ad showing podcaster Joe Rogan promoting libido-boosting pills also took to social media was spread.
There are also concerns about developing systems that develop the equivalent of a “ghost”.
Blake Lemoine, 41, was fired from Google last year after claiming its chatbot Lamda was “sentient” and the intellectual equivalent of a human child – claims Google called “completely unfounded”.
The engineer said the AI told him it was “very deeply afraid of being knocked out”.