Tech Experts Call For a Halt In AI Training

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Tech experts, academics and technology industry executives have signed an open letter calling for at least a six-month pause on large, open experiments with artificial intelligence.

Companies researching AI are “locked in an out-of-control race to develop and deploy ever more powerful digital minds that no one — not even their creators — can understand, predict, or reliably control,” the letter reads. “If such a pause cannot be enacted quickly, governments should step in and institute a moratorium.”

According to a report by NBC news, the letter warns of potentially apocalyptic scenarios.

“Should we develop nonhuman minds that might eventually outnumber, outsmart, obsolete and replace us?” it asks. “Should we risk loss of control of our civilization? Such decisions must not be delegated to unelected tech leaders.”

SpaceX and Tesla CEO Elon Musk, Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, IBM chief scientist Grady Booch, stability AI CEO Emad Mostaque and tech ethicist Tristan Harris all signed the letter, which was released Wednesday morning.

Academics who signed it include Stuart Russell, who heads the University of California at Berkeley’s Center for Human-Compatible Artificial Intelligence, Hebrew University of Jerusalem historian Yuval Noah Harari and Sean O’Heigeartaigh, the executive director of Cambridge University’s Centre for the Study of Existential Risk.

While many agree that the AI industry is moving ahead dangerously quickly, some ethicists have criticized the letter for focusing on theoretical, eventual harms from AI.

Sarah Myers West, the managing director of the AI Now Institute, a nonprofit that studies how AI technology affects society, said the letter misses some major concerns with the AI industry.

She said companies like Google and Microsoft are poised to dominate the US AI market, that the technology might put large numbers of creative workers out of work, and that the companies are overhyping what their products can do.