“Godfather of AI” leaves Google – and says he regrets life’s work due to risks to humanity

Geoffrey Hinton

A prominent artificial intelligence researcher known as the “godfather of AI” has quit his job at Google — and says he now partly regrets his work advancing the burgeoning technology because of the risks it poses to society.

dr Geoffrey Hinton is a renowned computer scientist who is widely credited with laying the AI ​​foundations that eventually led to the development of popular chatbots like OpenAI’s ChatGPT and other advanced systems.

The 75-year-old told The New York Times he left Google to speak openly about the risks of unchecked AI development – including the spread of misinformation, upheaval in the job market and other, more nefarious possibilities.

“I console myself with the usual excuse: If I hadn’t done it, someone else would have,” Hinton said in an interview published Monday.

“Look at how it was five years ago and how it is now,” Hinton added later in the interview. “Take the difference and propagate it to the front. That’s spooky.”

Hinton worries that AI will only become more dangerous in the future – with “bad actors” potentially exploiting advanced systems “for bad things” that will be difficult to prevent.

Hinton informed Google of his plans to resign last month, according to the report, and spoke in person with company boss Sundar Pichai last Thursday. The computer scientist did not reveal what he and Pichai discussed during the phone call.

Geoffrey Hinton
Geoffrey Hinton fears that AI is progressing too fast for humans to control.
Bloomberg via Getty Images

Google’s chief scientist Jeff Dean defended the company’s AI efforts.

“We remain committed to responsible use of AI. We are continually learning to understand emerging risks while boldly innovating,” Dean said in a statement.

The Post reached out to Google for further comment.

Hinton is the latest in a growing number of pundits who have warned that AI could cause significant harm without proper oversight and regulation. In March, Elon Musk and more than 1,000 other prominent figures in the AI ​​sector called for a six-month pause in the development of advanced AI, citing its potential “profound risks to society and humanity.”

In the interview, Hinton expressed his concern that artificial intelligence has already begun to outperform the human mind in some facets.

He also raised concerns that the pace of AI development will increase as Microsoft-backed OpenAI, Google and other tech giants race for the lead — with potentially dangerous consequences.

AI, ChatGPT logos
AI chatbots have become increasingly popular in recent months.
SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Geoffrey Hinton
Geoffrey Hinton informed Google of his resignation last month.

Hinton worries that as systems gain the ability to create and run their own computer code — or even power weapons without human control — advanced AI could eventually spiral out of control.

“The idea that this stuff could actually get smarter than humans — a few people believed that,” Hinton added. “But most people thought it was far away. And I thought it was far away. I thought it was 30 to 50 years or more away. Of course I don’t think that anymore.”

In a recent interview with CBS’ 60 Minutes, Pichai himself warned that AI would result in job losses for “knowledge workers” like writers, accountants, architects and software developers.

Pichai also described bizarre scenarios in which Google’s AI programs have developed “emerging properties” — or learned unexpected skills in which they weren’t trained.

Bard AI
Google is racing with tech competitors to develop AI.

Since 2013, Hinton has divided his time between his positions as a professor at the University of Toronto and as a Google Engineering Fellow. He had worked for the tech giant since Google acquired a startup he co-founded with two students, Alex Krishevsky and Ilya Sutskever.

The trio developed a neural network that trained itself to identify common objects like cars or animals by analyzing thousands of photos. Sutskever currently serves as the Chief Scientist for OpenAI.

In 2018, Hinton was a joint recipient of the Turing Prize — often referred to as the computing world’s equivalent of the Nobel Prize — for work on neural networks that has been described as “major breakthroughs in artificial intelligence.”

A lengthy biography for Hinton on Google’s website praises his achievements – noting that he “made major breakthroughs in deep learning that revolutionized speech recognition and object classification.”

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