Geoffrey Hinton, a prominent cognitive psychologist and computer scientist known as the “Godfather of AI”, announced his departure from Google and expressed growing concerns about the future of artificial intelligence, amidst mounting debates over the technology's implications.
Hinton's announcement comes as other technology experts voice apprehensions about the widespread adoption of AI tools like ChatGPT, an advanced language model developed by OpenAI. Critics argue that these tools could negatively impact the flow of information and contribute to job loss on a massive scale.
In an interview with The New York Times, Hinton revealed that he had discussed his concerns with Sundar Pichai, the CEO of Google's parent company, Alphabet.
“I console myself with the normal excuse: if I hadn’t done it, somebody else would have,” Hinton said. “It is hard to see how you can prevent the bad actors from using it for bad things.”
The renowned scientist, who helped develop neural networks capable of identifying objects such as cats and flowers through the analysis of thousands of images, cited worries about AI tools exhibiting unexpected behavior and potentially running on self-developed code. This, he fears, could lead to the abuse of weapons and other technologies entrusted to AI systems.
Hinton's departure follows Google's announcement of Bard, an experimental conversational AI service to be integrated into its search engine. The move came shortly after Microsoft's declaration that it would incorporate OpenAI advancements into its search engine Bing and browser Edge.
Hinton's disillusionment with Google's hurried actions has led him to question the company's role as a responsible steward of AI technology.
Notable figures like Elon Musk, OpenAI co-founder, and Steve Wozniak, Apple co-founder, have also expressed concerns about AI's future.
“Hinton knows what he’s talking about,” wrote Elon Musk on Twitter in response to the news.
Both signed an open letter from the Future of Life Institute, along with hundreds of other technology leaders, calling for a six-month moratorium on AI development as the world contemplates potential consequences.
While some experts argue that concerns raised by Hinton and Musk are exaggerated, many analysts acknowledge that the rapid growth of AI applications could significantly disrupt the global economy and labor market.