Leading scientist says he had to ‘blow the whistle’ on dangers of AI


Geoffrey Hinton, a former Google executive and a leading pioneer of artificial intelligence, said he had to “blow the whistle” on the risks of AI because the new technology he helped build is becoming smarter than he had anticipated. 

“I’m just a scientist who suddenly realized that these things are getting smarter than us,” Hinton told CNN’s Jake Tapper in an interview Tuesday. 

“I want to sort of blow the whistle and say, we should worry seriously about how we stop these things getting control over us,” he added.

Hinton says he recently left Google after more than a decade at the company so he could speak freely about the dangers of AI, including how it could create unintended consequences, such as sowing disinformation or replacing human workers.

“It is hard to see how you can prevent the bad actors from using it for bad things,” Hinton told The New York Times, which first reported his resignation from Google. 

In his interview with CNN, Hinton explained that AI is rapidly advancing and that people will soon “not be able to know what is true anymore.”

“If it gets to be much smarter than us, it will be very good at manipulation, because it will have learned that from us, and there are very few examples of a more intelligent thing being controlled by a less intelligent thing,” Hinton told Tapper. 

Hinton was a vice president and an engineering fellow at Google, where he designed machine-learning algorithms. 

In 2012, he and two graduate students at the University of Toronto built tools that helped lead to the creation of AI systems, something he said he partly regrets.

In a statement to The Hill earlier this week, Jeff Dean, Google’s chief scientist, said: “Geoff has made foundational breakthroughs in AI, and we appreciate his decade of contributions at Google.”

“As one of the first companies to publish AI Principles, we remain committed to a responsible approach to AI,” Dean added. “We’re continually learning to understand emerging risks while also innovating boldly.”

More than 1,000 technology researchers have signed an open letter asking for a six-month pause on the expansion of AI, citing “profound risks to society and humanity.”

AI has also faced criticism from the Biden administration, which announced last week it would crack down on automated systems that can cause harmful business practices, including unlawful bias and discrimination. 

Hinton also told Tapper that he did not have a solution to the issue. 

“It’s not clear to me that we can solve this problem,” Hinton said. “I believe we should put a big effort into thinking about ways to solve the problem. I don’t have a solution at present.”

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