A man widely recognized as the godfather of artificial intelligence (AI) has quit his job, warning of growing dangers from developments in the field.
Geoffrey Hinton, aged 75, announced his resignation from Google in a statement to the New York Times, saying he now regrets his work.
He told the BBC that some of the risks of AI chatbots were “quite scary”.
“So far, they’re not smarter than us, as far as I know. But I think they might be.”
Dr Hinton’s pioneering research in deep learning and neural networks paved the way for current AI systems such as ChatGPT.
But the British-Canadian cognitive psychologist and computer scientist told the BBC that the chatbot will soon overtake the level of information held by the human brain.
“Right now, what we’re seeing is things like GPT-4 that blow someone away with the amount of general knowledge it has and it sticks with them a long way. In terms of reasoning, it’s not as good, but it already does. simple reasoning.
“And given the rate of development, we expect things to be faster. So we have to worry about that.”
In the New York Times article, Dr Hinton referred to “bad actors” who would try to use AI for “bad things”.
When asked by the BBC to explain this, he replied: “It’s kind of a worst-case scenario, kind of a nightmare scenario.
“You can think, for example, of some bad actors like [Russian President Vladimir] Putin decided to give robots the ability to create their own sub-goals.”
The scientist warns that eventually it can “create sub-goals like ‘I need to get more power'”.
He added: “I have come to the conclusion that the kind of intelligence we develop is very different from the intelligence we have.
“We are biological systems and these are digital systems. And the big difference is that in digital systems, you have multiple copies of the same set of weights, the same model of the world.
“And all these copies can learn separately but share their knowledge instantly. So it’s like you had 10,000 people and whenever one person learned something, everybody automatically knows it. And that’s how these chatbots can know so much more than any one person.”
Dr Hinton also said there were several other reasons for quitting his job.
“One is, I’m 75. So it’s time to retire. Also, I really want to say some good things about Google. And they’ll be more credible if I don’t work at Google.”
He emphasized that he did not want to criticize Google and that the tech giant was “very responsible”.
In a statement, Google’s chief scientist Jeff Dean said: “We remain committed to a responsible approach to AI. We continue to learn to understand emerging risks while also boldly innovating.”