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Elon Musk and tech execs call for ‘pause’ on AI development

More than 2,600 tech leaders and researchers have signed an open letter urging for a temporary “pause” on further artificial intelligence (AI) development, fearing “profound risks to society and humanity.”

Tesla CEO Elon Musk, Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak and a host of AI CEOs, CTOs and researchers were among the signatories of the letter, which was authored by the United States think tank Future of Life Institute (FOLI) on March 22.

The institute called on all AI companies to “immediately pause” training AI systems that are more powerful than GPT-4 for at least six months, sharing concerns that “human-competitive intelligence can pose profound risks to society and humanity,” among other things:

“Advanced AI could represent a profound change in the history of life on Earth, and should be planned for and managed with commensurate care and resources. Unfortunately, this level of planning and management is not happening,” the institute wrote in its letter.

GPT-4 is the latest iteration of OpenAI’s artificial intelligence-powered chatbot, which was released on March 14. To date, it has passed some of the most rigorous U.S. high school and law exams within the 90th percentile. It is understood to be 10 times more advanced than the original version of ChatGPT.

There is an “out-of-control race” between AI firms to develop more powerful AI, that “no one – not even their creators – can understand, predict, or reliably control,” FOLI claimed.

Among the top concerns were whether machines could flood information channels, potentially with “propaganda and untruth” and whether machines will “automate away” all employment opportunities.

FOLI took these concerns one step further, suggesting that the entrepreneurial efforts of these AI companies may lead to an existential threat:

“Should we develop nonhuman minds that might eventually outnumber, outsmart, obsolete and replace us? Should we risk loss of control of our civilization?”

“Such decisions must not be delegated to unelected tech leaders,” the letter added.

The institute also agreed with a recent statement from OpenAI founder Sam Altman suggesting an independent review may be required before training future AI systems.

Altman in his Feb. 24 blog post highlighted the need to prepare for artificial general intelligence (AGI) and artificial superintelligence (ASI) robots.

Not all AI pundits have rushed to sign the petition though. Ben Goertzel, the CEO of SingularityNET explained in a March 29 Twitter response to Gary Marcus, the author of Rebooting.AI that language learning models (LLMs) won’t become AGIs, which, to date, there have been few developments of.

Instead, he said research and development should be slowed down for things like bioweapons and nukes:

In addition to language learning models like ChatGPT, AI-powered deep fake technology has been used to create convincing images, audio and video hoaxes. The technology has also been used to create AI-generated artwork, with some concerns raised about whether it could violate copyright laws in certain cases.

Related: ChatGPT can now access the internet with new OpenAI plugins

Galaxy Digital CEO Mike Novogratz recently told investors he was shocked over the amount of regulatory attention has been given to crypto, while little has been towards artificial intelligence.

“When I think about AI, it shocks me that we’re talking so much about crypto regulation and nothing about AI regulation. I mean, I think the government’s got it completely upside-down,” he opined during a shareholders call on March 28.

FOLI has argued that should AI development pause not be enacted quickly, governments should get involved with a moratorium.

“This pause should be public and verifiable, and include all key actors. If such a pause cannot be enacted quickly, governments should step in and institute a moratorium,” it wrote.

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