Top executives at artificial intelligence (AI) companies, including OpenAI CEO Sam Altman, joined experts and professors on Tuesday in arguing that "the risk of AI leading to the extinction of humanity" is rising. They urged policymakers to equate this with the risks posed by pandemics and the outbreak of nuclear war.
"Reducing the risk of human extinction due to AI must be a global priority alongside other societal-scale risks such as pandemics and nuclear war," say more than 350 signatories to a letter published by the non-governmental organizationCenter for AI Safety (CAIS).
In addition to Altman, they include the CEOs of artificial intelligence firms DeepMind and Anthropic and executives from Microsoft and Google.
The letter was also signed byGeoffrey Hinton andYoshua Bengio - two of the three "Godfathers of AI" who received the Turing Prize in 2018 for their work on the so-called in-depth training - and professors from institutions ranging from Harvard to China's Tsinghua University.
A statement from CAIS pointed to Meta, where the third "godfather" of AI, Yann Lecun, works, for not signing the letter. "We asked a lot of Meta employees to sign," said CAIS director Dan Hendricks.
The letter coincided with a meeting of the US-EU Trade and Technology Council in Sweden, where policymakers are expected to talk about AI regulation.
Elon Musk and a group of AI experts and industry executives were the first to point out potential risks to society in April. "We have extended an invitation (to Musk) and we hope he will sign it this week," Hendricks said.
Recent developments in AI have created tools that could have applications in a variety of fields, from medical diagnosis to writing legal documents, but this has raised concerns that the technology could lead to privacy breaches, disinformation campaigns and problems with the thinking of "smart machines" for themselves.
The warning comes two months after the nonprofit Future of Life Institute (FLI) released a similar open letter signed by Musk and hundreds of others calling for an urgent pause in cutting-edge AI research, citing risks to humanity.
"Our letter spoke of a pause, this draws attention to our disappearance", said FLI president Max Tegmark, who also signed the more recent letter. "Now, a constructive open conversation can finally begin."
Artificial intelligence pioneer Hinton previously told Reuters that artificial intelligence could pose a "more urgent" threat to humanity than climate change.
Last week, OpenAI CEO Sam Altman described the EU's approach to AI - the first effort to create AI regulation - as over-regulation and threatened to leave Europe. He reversed his position within days after criticism from politicians.
Altman became the face of AI after his chatbot ChatGPT captured the world's attention. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen will meet Altman on Thursday, and EU industry chief Thierry Breton will meet him in San Francisco next month.
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