A man widely regarded as the father of artificial intelligence (AI) has quit his job, warning of the dangers posed by developments in the field.
Jeffrey Hinton, 75, announced his resignation from Google in a statement to the New York Times, saying he now regrets his work.
He told the BBC that some of the risks of AI chatbots are “very scary”.
“Right now, they’re not smarter than us, as far as I can tell. But I think they might be soon.”
Dr. Hinton’s pioneering research on deep learning and neural networks paved the way for current AI systems like ChatGPT.
But the British-Canadian cognitive psychologist and computer scientist told the BBC that chatbots could soon overtake the information held by the human brain.
“What we see now is that things like GPT-4 eclipse a person’s level of common sense and it hides him for a long time. In terms of reasoning, it’s not that good, but it already does. Simple reasoning.
“And given the rate of progress, we expect things to improve very quickly. So we should be concerned about that.”
In the New York Times article, Dr. Hinton referred to “bad actors” trying to use AI for “bad deeds.”
When asked by the BBC to elaborate, he replied: “It’s a kind of worst case scenario, a kind of nightmare scenario.
“For example, you can imagine some bad actors [Russian President Vladimir] Putin decided to give robots the ability to create their own sub-targets.”
This can eventually create “sub-goals like ‘I want to have more power,'” the scientist warned.
He added: “I have come to the conclusion that the intelligence we are developing is very different from the intelligence we have.
“We are biological systems and these are digital systems. And the big difference is that with digital systems, there are multiple copies of the same weight, the same model of the world.
“And all these replicas can learn individually, but share their knowledge instantly. So it’s like you have 10,000 people, and whenever one learns something, everyone automatically knows. And these chatbots can learn more than any one person.”
Dr Hinton also said there were other reasons for leaving his job.
“One, I’m 75. So it’s time to retire. And the other is, I want to say some good things about Google. And if I didn’t work at Google, they would be more credible.”
He did not want to criticize Google and insisted that the tech giant had acted “very responsibly”.
Jeff Dean, Google’s chief scientist, said in a statement: “We are committed to a responsible approach to AI. We continue to learn to understand emerging risks while boldly innovating.”