A prominent artificial intelligence researcher known as the ‘Godfather of AI’ has quit his job at Google – and says he now partly regrets his job advancing the burgeoning technology because of the risks it weighs on society.
Dr. Geoffrey Hinton is a renowned computer scientist who is widely credited with laying the foundations of AI that eventually led to the creation of popular chatbots such as OpenAI’s ChatGPT and other advanced systems.
The 75-year-old told the New York Times that he quit Google so he could speak openly about the risks of rampant AI development – including the spread of misinformation, labor market disruptions and other more harmful possibilities.
“I console myself with the normal excuse: if I hadn’t done it, someone else would have done it,” Hinton said in an interview published Monday.
“Look how it was five years ago and how it is now,” Hinton added later in the interview. “Take the difference and spread it forward. It’s frightening.”
Hinton fears that AI will become more dangerous in the future – with “bad actors” potentially exploiting advanced systems “for bad things” that will be hard to prevent.
Hinton notified Google of his intention to step down last month and spoke personally last Thursday with the company’s CEO, Sundar Pichai, according to the report. The IT guy did not reveal what he and Pichai discussed during the phone call.
Google chief scientist Jeff Dean defended the company’s AI efforts.
“We remain committed to a responsible approach to AI. We continually learn to understand emerging risks while boldly innovating,” Dean said in a statement.
The Post has contacted Google for further comment.
Hinton is the latest in a growing number of experts who have warned that AI could cause significant harm without proper oversight and regulation. In March, Elon Musk and more than 1,000 other AI industry figures called for a six-month pause in advanced AI development, citing its potential “profound risks to society and humanity.”
In the interview, Hinton expressed concern that artificial intelligence has already begun to overtake the human mind in some facets.
He also raised concerns about the accelerating pace of AI development as OpenAI, Google and other Microsoft-backed tech giants race to lead the pack, with potentially dangerous consequences.
Hinton worries that advanced AI is spiraling out of control as systems gain the ability to create and run their own computer code — or even power weapons without human control.
“The idea that this stuff could actually get smarter than people – a few people believed that,” Hinton added. “But most people thought it was a long way off. And I thought it was far. I thought it was in 30 to 50 years or even more. Of course, I don’t think about that anymore.
In a recent interview with CBS’s “60 Minutes,” Pichai himself warned that AI would lead to job losses for “knowledge workers,” such as writers, accountants, architects, and computer engineers. software.
Pichai also detailed bizarre scenarios in which Google’s AI programs developed “emergent properties” – or learned unexpected skills they weren’t trained in.
Since 2013, Hinton had split his time between roles as a professor at the University of Toronto and as a Google Engineering Fellow. He had worked for the tech giant since Google acquired a startup he co-founded with two students, Alex Krishevsky and Ilya Sutskever.
The trio developed a neural network that trained itself to identify common objects, such as cars or animals, by analyzing thousands of photos. Sutskever is currently Chief Scientist for OpenAI.
In 2018, Hinton was a co-recipient of the Turing Prize – often identified as the computing equivalent of the Nobel Prize – for his work on neural networks described as “major breakthroughs in artificial intelligence”.
A lengthy biography of Hinton on Google’s website praises his accomplishments – noting that he “has made major breakthroughs in deep learning that have revolutionized speech recognition and object classification”.
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