June 16, 2024

Innovation & Tech Today

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Top Scientists Call for an Immediate Pause on AI Development

Over 1300 leaders in the fields of computer science, education, law and humanities have signed a letter calling on AI labs around the world to institute a 6-month pause on the development of large-scale AI systems. The signatories, which include Elon Musk, Steve Wozniak, and Andrew Yang, cite the “profound risks to society and humanity” of the current race in AI deployment. 

The letter, published by the nonprofit Future of LIfe Institute notes, “AI labs locked in an out-of-control race to develop and deploy ever more powerful digital minds that no one – not even their creators – can understand, predict, or reliably control.” The signatories list is currently paused, due to high demand.

Unintended Consequences

The letter warns of unintended and little understood consequences of current AI trends: 

“Contemporary AI systems are now becoming human-competitive at general tasks and we must ask ourselves: Should we let machines flood our information channels with propaganda and untruth? Should we automate away all the jobs, including the fulfilling ones? Should we develop nonhuman minds that might eventually outnumber, outsmart, obsolete and replace us? Should we risk loss of control of our civilization?”

Recent developments have seen OpenAI, Google and Microsoft deploy

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generative AI products, ignoring their own previously stated concerns over safety and ethics. For example, Open AI recently expressed similar concerns: 

“At some point, it may be important to get independent review before starting to train future systems, and for the most advanced efforts to agree to limit the rate of growth of compute used for creating new models.” 

The letter calls for a six-month moratorium to allow time for an independent review and further says that if such a pause cannot be quickly enacted, that governments should step in. The letter concludes by saying: 

“Humanity can enjoy a flourishing future with AI. Having succeeded in creating powerful AI systems, we can now enjoy an “AI summer” in which we reap the rewards, engineer these systems for the clear benefit of all, and give society a chance to adapt. Society has hit pause on other technologies with potentially catastrophic effects on society.  We can do so here. Let’s enjoy a long AI summer, not rush unprepared into a fall.”

You can read the full text of the letter and see the signatories here.

Picture of By Jim Daws

By Jim Daws

Jim Daws is Managing Editor for Innovation & Tech Today.

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