A Google engineer considered widely to be the godfather of artificial intelligence (AI) has left his job and is now warning of the dangers of further development of AI.
Geoffrey Hinton, who worked for over a decade at Google, is responsible for the 2012 tech breakthrough that serves as the foundation for current Ais, including ChatGPT. Hinton announced his resignation from the company, saying that he regrets his work now.
“I console myself with the normal excuse: If I hadn’t done it, somebody else would have,” Hinton said.
“It is hard to see how you can prevent the bad actors from using it for bad things,” he said of AI.
The former engineer’s major AI breakthrough came when working with two graduate students in 2012 in Toronto. According to the New York Times, the trio of researchers successfully created an algorithm that could identify common elements and analyze photos, including cars and dogs.
The algorithm was the fundamental beginning of what current AIs like ChatGPT, Google’s Bard AI, and OpenAIs are capable of. Google purchased the company started by Hinton around the algorithm shortly after the breakthrough for $44 million.
One graduate student who worked on the project with Hinton, Ilya Sutskever, now works as chief scientist at OpenAI.
Hinton said the rapid progression since 2012 is astounding but is probably only the tip of the iceberg.
“Look at how it was five years ago and how it is now,” Hinton said of the industry. “Take the difference and propagate it forward. That’s scary.”
His fears echo those voiced by more than 1,000 tech leaders earlier in the year in a public letter that called for a temporary halt to AI development. Although Hinton did not sign the note at the time, he says now that he did not want to criticize Google while he was still working for the company. Since then, Hinton has ended his employment with the company and had a phone call with Sundar Pichai, Google CEO, on Thursday.
“We remain committed to a responsible approach to AI. We’re continually learning to understand emerging risks also innovating boldly,” said Jeff Dean, Google’s chief scientist, to the Times.
Hinton: Worried about generative AI products
In his Times interview, Hinton expressed concern over generative AI products that could disseminate fake photos, videos, and information across the internet — and the public won’t be able to identify what is true or false.
Hinton spoke about how AI technologies could eventually eliminate human laborers, including paralegals, assistants, and translators. The concern is echoed by Sam Altman, CEO of OpenAI, and other critics of AI technology.
In March, Goldman Sachs released a report that an estimated 300 million full-time positions could be “impacted” by AI systems similar to ChatGPT, chiefly administrative and legal workers, although levels of impact could vary. There is also increasing concern among software engineers who worry their jobs could be replaced by AI.