Geoffrey Hinton, known as the "godfather of AI", believes AI can "acquire far more knowledge than any individual living creature" and says the age of AI is coming sooner than he previously thought. "I left Google to talk about the risks of AI without having to think about the implications for Google," he says. Google has acted very responsibly."
Geoffrey Hinton, known as the "godfather of AI", left Google on Monday May 1st and plans to warn about the risks of the AI technology he has long promoted.
Hinton said he now believes AI can "acquire far more knowledge than any individual organism." Google and Microsoft are among the big tech companies investing heavily in new AI models.
Geoffrey Hinton got his PhD in artificial intelligence 45 years ago. He remains one of the most respected figures in the field.
Hinton, who worked part-time at Google for the past decade but has since left the Internet giant, said he would warn the world about the potential threat of artificial intelligence, an era he said was coming sooner than he previously thought.
I used to think that the age of AI would be 30 to 50 years or more away, and obviously I don't think that anymore.
Hinton, who won the Turing Award in 2018 for conceptual and engineering breakthroughs, said he now feels some regret about his life's work, citing the recent craze for AI that could take away people's jobs, as well as the proliferation of fake photos and videos produced by AI. Hinton said in a statement:
I now think the digital intelligence we're creating is very different from biological intelligence.
As for GPT-4, the most advanced technology developed by OpenAI, Hinton says:
If I have 1,000 digital intelligences, and they're all exactly cloned, every time one learns how to do something, all the other digital intelligences immediately know how to do the same thing, because they're all exactly cloned. Biological intelligence can't do that. As a result, this collection of digital intelligences can acquire far more knowledge than any single biological intelligence. That's why GPT-4 knows more than anyone else.
Hinton sounded the alarm even before he left Google. Asked in March how he felt about the idea that artificial intelligence could wipe out the human race, he replied:
This is not inconceivable. That's all I have to say.
Google CEO Sundar Pichai has also publicly warned about the risks of AI. 'Society is not ready for the coming era of AI,' he said last month. But when asked if "the pace of change in AI technology will outpace our ability to adapt," Pichai played down the risks, saying:
I don't think so. Humans are an infinitely adaptable species.
Over the past year, Hinton has reduced his hours at Google. In March 2022, his position changed from full-time to 20 percent of his time at Google. Later that year, he was assigned to a new team at Google Brain Research. Prior to his departure, he was most recently Vice President and engineering Fellow, reporting to Jeff Dean at Google Brain.
Dean said he appreciates Hinton's 10 years at Google:
I'll miss him and wish him all the best! As one of the first companies to publish the principles of AI, we are committed to taking a responsible attitude towards AI. We continue to learn and understand emerging risks, but also innovate boldly.
Hinton's departure is a high-profile loss for Google Brain, the team behind most of the company's AI products, according to market Analytics. A few years ago, Google paid $44 million for a company started by Hinton and two of his students in 2012.
Last month, Google said it would merge its two teams, Google Brain and DeepMind, to "significantly accelerate our progress in AI".
Hinton said he quit his job at Google so he could speak freely about the risks of AI. However, he said on social media:
I left Google to talk about the risks of AI without thinking about the implications for Google. Google has acted very responsibly.
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Responsible Editor: Zhou Wei
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