Human extinction by AI is real threat, big tech warns

The risk of human extinction caused by the evolution of artificial intelligence is a real threat that must be addressed now, warns top AI scientists and tech leaders.

Top AI leaders are warning that the unchecked development of AI presents a risk to human civilization on par with devastating world threats such as nuclear war and future pandemics.

Industry heavyweights Sam Altman, the CEO of OpenAI, and Geoffrey Hinton, the known “godfather of AI,” are just two of the hundreds of AI expert signatories on the new warning published Tuesday by the Center for AI Safety (CAIS).

"Mitigating the risk of extinction from AI should be a global priority alongside other societal-scale risks such as pandemics and nuclear war," the online statement said.

The “succinct statement” was designed to open up a public discussion on what AI experts, journalists, and policymakers are considering a severe risk among the broad spectrum of concerns associated with AI, according to CAIS.

The statement “is also meant to create common knowledge of the growing number of experts and public figures who also take some of advanced AI’s most severe risks seriously,” CAIS said.

Alongside Altman, co-signers included dozens of professors and scientists from prestigious universities worldwide, such as Harvard University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, University of Oxford, and Tsinghua University in Beijing.

Notably, the CEOs of AI firms Anthropic and Google’s DeepMind, as well as multiple executives from Microsoft and Alphabet, also signed the statement.

It’s the second open letter released publicly in the past few months warning of the potential disruptions AI could cause to human civilization.

On March 22nd, the Future of Life Institute published its own AI warning signed by over 31,000 AI experts and tech leaders, including Tesla’s Elon Musk and Apple’s Steve Wozniak.

The open letter called on AI labs worldwide to step back and take a six-month pause in AI research and training, citing the release of OpenAI’s most powerful large language AI model to date, ChatGPT4.

“Should we develop nonhuman minds that might eventually outnumber, outsmart, obsolete, and replace us? Should we risk the loss of control of our civilization?” the March letter questioned its readers.

The Institute has also since published a how-to-guide for policymakers to enact the AI research pause.

Altman, who noticeably did not sign the letter – disagreeing with the six-month pause in favor of permanent regulations – is currently making the rounds in Europe and testified before US Congress earlier this month to discuss the future of responsible AI development.

Besides Hinton who recently resigned from his part-time position at Google to speak freely about the dangers of AI a second so-called “AI Godfather,” Yoshua Bengio, also lent his signature to the CAIS document.

Meta's Yann LeCun, the final member of the proclaimed "AI Godfather" trio, was singled out by CAIS for not signing the letter.

CAIS, a nonprofit group dedicated to the reduction of societal-scale risks from artificial intelligence, said it has “extended an invitation” to Elon Musk to sign the statement.

Incidentally, Grimes, the Canadian musician and former romantic partner sharing a daughter with Musk, is listed as one of Tuesday's signatories.

A recent survey by Reuters/Ipsos showed over 60% of Americans believe that AI is a threat to human civilization.

When asked about the survey results, the Future of Life Institute Policy Director Landon Klein compared this moment in history to the beginning of the nuclear era.

Altman, who has already met with EU leaders from Germany, France, and the UK, is expected to meet with the European Commission President Thursday.


Norbert Gostischa
prefix 1 year ago
Is this new AI revolution really going to cause the end of Civilization? If it is, I'm in trouble.
I use AI almost daily and find the technology both fascinating and extremely helpful with certain reservations. I'm aware that it can be used for both good and evil. I'm aware that it occasionally makes up stories. I'm aware that AI (Chat Bots) can be manipulated. It can be biased, hateful, deceitful but if used properly and with moderation it can be an incredible tool. A tool that needs to be managed, controlled, and harnessed. Yes, it's powerful and we've only just scratched the surface of its potential.
But, to fear that this new and yet underutilized technology will cause our extinction is preposterous.
Instead of expressing fear, I challenge those that added their names to the "Statement of AI Risk" to use their talent to make sure that this new AI Intellectual Revolution is steered in the right direction. That it's used to extend and enhance our existence, not end it.
Doomsday has been incorrectly predicted many times during my lifetime. I'm still here and so is civilization. To fear something usually means a lack of understanding and a lack of acceptance.
Stay safe, stay secure. I'll see you again soon. Bye-bye, and thanks for reading my take on this.
Some Guy
prefix 1 year ago
I don't think the starving men, women, and children all over the world give two hoots about the AI fearmongering. No, AI isn't going to destroy humanity. No, AI isn't going to destroy jobs. No, AI isn't going to do any of that. It will improve lives. But of course AI is the latest in the fearmongering wagon that media loves to pick up on. The soup du jour, if you will.

How about we deal with world hunger, war, disease, famine, and the poor and homeless? Those are all more likely to end civilization before some piece of technology will.

And even if somehow someway AI destroys us all maybe that's a good thing, given how humans have treated this planet and each other, especially over the last 10 years.
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