‘Godfather of AI’ Geoffrey Hinton Raises Alarm on Combat Robots and Targeted Fake News

  • AI Threatens Social Stability: Geoffrey Hinton, Godfather of AI warns that AI could amplify social injustice, erode stability, and undermine our shared understanding of reality.
  • Need for International Regulation: Hinton emphasizes the necessity of an international framework and cooperation to regulate AI, but acknowledges challenges due to competition.
  • Generative AI’s Impact on Elections: Expressing concern, Hinton highlights the potential for generative AI to aid authoritarian governments in manipulating elections through targeted fake news.
  • Military Risks and Combat Robots: Hinton warns of the military risks associated with AI, including the ease with which combat robots could facilitate invasions and the potential loss of control in AI-driven warfare.
  • Job Displacement and Wealth Inequality: While acknowledging AI’s benefits in areas like earthquake prediction and medicine, Hinton cautions that it could widen the wealth gap by displacing jobs and potentially causing harm.
  • Immediate Risk Comparable to Climate Change: Hinton suggests that AI poses a more immediate risk to humanity than climate change, urging government agencies and organizations to reevaluate safety measures and pause the global AI development race.
'Godfather of AI' Geoffrey Hinton Raises Alarm on Combat Robots and Targeted Fake News
Hinton, 75, professor emeritus at the University of Toronto, stressed the need for an international framework to examine AI safety, and international cooperation to regulate AI. PHOTO: UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO/THE YOMIURI SHIMBUN

Geoffrey Hinton, a prominent figure in the field of artificial intelligence, has raised concerns about the rapid advancement of AI technology in an interview with The Yomiuri Shimbun. Hinton, a 75-year-old professor emeritus at the University of Toronto, emphasized the necessity of establishing an international framework to address artificial intelligence safety and advocated for global cooperation in regulating AI. He noted, “It is very difficult because of the competition between big tech companies and between nations.”

Expressing the difficulty in regulating AI due to competition between major tech companies and nations, Hinton highlighted the potential risks associated with AI systems surpassing human capabilities.

In a paper titled “Managing AI Risks in an Era of Rapid Progress,” co-authored by Hinton, he warned that AI advancements could exacerbate social injustice, destabilize societies, and undermine our shared understanding of reality.

“AI systems could rapidly come to outperform humans in an increasing number of tasks … They threaten to amplify social injustice, erode social stability, and weaken our shared understanding of reality that is foundational to society,” Hinton wrote in “Managing AI Risks in an Era of Rapid Progress.”

Geoffrey Hinton’s Advocacy and Concerns

Known as the “godfather of AI,” Hinton resigned from his position at Google in May after a decade to raise awareness about the dangers of AI. He pointed out that AI models, such as OpenAI’s ChatGPT, already possess knowledge capacities far exceeding those of the human brain and could potentially outperform humans in various tasks sometime in the 2020s or 2030s.

“Currently, we do not know how to deal with the existential threat of more intelligent digital beings taking over,” he said.

Hinton expressed particular apprehension about the impact of generative AI on elections, stating that it could facilitate the manipulation of voters through targeted fake news. “It will make it much easier for authoritarian governments to manipulate the electorate with fake news that is targeted to each individual,” he said.

With upcoming elections in Taiwan and the United States in 2024, concerns have been raised about the potential manipulation of public opinion through disinformation, including fake videos related to conflicts like those in Gaza.

To counteract disinformation, Hinton proposed legislation making it illegal to produce or share fake images or videos unless clearly marked as fake, similar to measures taken with counterfeit currency. Hinton said, “It would be very good to have legislation making it illegal to produce or share fake images or videos unless they are marked as fake. We already do this with currency.” However, he acknowledged the challenges of implementing such legislation in the United States, citing political affiliations tied to the spread of fake news.

Hinton also highlighted military risks associated with AI, expressing concern about combat robots enabling wealthy nations to more easily invade poorer ones. He cautioned against the use of AI systems that automatically set and execute attack targets, as it could lead to uncontrollable wars and widespread harm.

While acknowledging the potential benefits of AI in areas such as earthquake prediction and medicine, Hinton cautioned that it could result in job displacement and widen the wealth gap. He argued that the immediate risks posed by AI may surpass those of climate change and urged government agencies and organizations to take appropriate measures to regulate global AI development, emphasizing the inadequacy of current safety measures and the need for a reassessment of humanity’s approach to AI.

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