The so-called “Godfather of AI,” Geoffrey Hinton, has left Google to express his concerns about the dangers of artificial intelligence (AI) more openly. Hinton, who was awarded the Turing Award in 2018 alongside two other AI pioneers for their groundbreaking work in neural networks, recently spoke about his regrets and fears for the future of AI in an interview with The New York Times.
Having worked at Google for over a decade, Hinton decided to quit the company to freely discuss the risks associated with AI. In the interview, Hinton explains that he uses the typical excuse that if he hadn’t developed AI, someone else would have. He also expresses concerns about the difficulty in preventing “bad actors” from using AI for malicious purposes.
Hinton’s resignation from Google came last month, and he has since spoken to CEO Sundar Pichai directly, although the details of their conversation remain undisclosed. His work, along with that of his students, has led to the creation of AI systems like ChatGPT and Google Bard.
In the interview, Hinton mentioned his satisfaction with Google’s management of the technology until Microsoft introduced its OpenAI-infused Bing search engine. This move sparked fierce competition in the search market, causing a “code red” response from Google. Hinton believes that such intense rivalry could result in a world flooded with fake images and text, making it nearly impossible for people to discern the truth.
Google’s Chief Scientist, Jeff Dean, responded to Hinton’s concerns, stating that the company remains committed to a responsible approach to AI and continues to learn about emerging risks while innovating boldly.
Hinton’s immediate concerns revolve around the spread of misinformation, but he also fears that, in the long term, AI could eliminate mundane jobs and potentially threaten humanity as the technology begins to develop and control its own code. Previously, Hinton believed that AI surpassing human intelligence was decades away, but his views have since changed.
“The idea that this stuff could actually get smarter than people — a few people believed that,” he said. “But most people thought it was way off. And I thought it was way off. I thought it was 30 to 50 years or even longer away. Obviously, I no longer think that.”
As the public debate on AI safety and its potential impact on society continues, Hinton’s resignation from Google and his decision to speak out serve as a stark reminder of the need for responsible development and management of AI technology.