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The “Godfather of AI”, Geoffrey Hinton, has quit his role at Google to allow him to speak more freely of the potential dangers in the technology he helped to create.
Hinton, an England born Canadian cognitive psychologist and computer scientist, has publicly announced his departure from Google citing concerns about the risks of AI technology, though he previously commended the company for acting responsibly while developing their own AI tools.
Prior to his departure, Hinton believed that true artificial intelligence was 30-50 years away, and possibly longer. However, during a CBS interview in March of this year, he stated that “general-purpose AI may be fewer than 20 years away and could bring about changes comparable in scale with the Industrial Revolution or electricity.”
During an interview with the New York Times, Hinton spoke of his resignation from Google and stated that he chose to quit the company to be able to “talk about the dangers of AI without considering how this impacts Google”. He also noted that a part of him regrets his life’s work.
Some of the dangers of AI chatbots are “quite scary,” Hinton told the BBC. “Right now, they’re not more intelligent than us, as far as I can tell. But I think they may soon be.”
Hinton explained that chatbots have the ability to learn independently and share knowledge. This means that whenever one copy acquires new information, it is automatically disseminated to the entire group. This allows AI chatbots to have the capability to accumulate knowledge far beyond the capacity of any individual.
In an interview with MIT Technology Review, Hinton also pointed to “bad actors” that may use AI in ways that could have detrimental impacts on society—such as manipulating elections or instigating violence.