Elon Musk urges pause to 'out of control' AI development over 'threat to civilisation'

29 March 2023, 16:35

Elon Musk has called on labs to pause work on developing AI, warning that “out of control” advances in the technology could “pose profound risks to society and humanity”.
Elon Musk has called on labs to pause work on developing AI, warning that “out of control” advances in the technology could “pose profound risks to society and humanity”. Picture: Alamy

By Chris Samuel

Elon Musk has called on labs to pause work on developing AI, warning that “out of control” advances in the technology could “pose profound risks to society and humanity”.

Mr Musk joined thousands of academics and major players in AI in signing an open letter demanding “all AI labs... immediately pause” work on advancing the tech, amid alarm over recent rapid advances.

The Tesla boss, and other signatories, called on governments to bring in temporary bans on further research if they fail to do so.

"Such decisions must not be delegated to unelected tech leaders,” the letter says.

“Powerful AI systems should be developed only once we are confident that their effects will be positive and their risks will be manageable.”

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“This does not mean a pause on AI development in general, merely a stepping back from the dangerous race to ever-larger unpredictable black-box models with emergent capabilities,” it adds.

The letter outlines the potential risks posed by advanced AI without the appropriate checks and balances, including the development of “nonhuman minds that might eventually outnumber, outsmart, obsolete and replace us,” and losing "control of our civilization".

Elon Musk
Elon Musk. Picture: Alamy

Fears have grown following the huge success of ChatGPT, a sophisticated AI chatbot developed by OpenAI that has shocked the public with its eerie ability to produce life-like responses to all manner of questions.

Academics at Microsoft, which has invested in the technology, said recently that GPT-4, the latest version of the software, showed signs of approaching the intelligence of humans.

The letter, from the Future of Life Institute, called for “all AI labs to immediately pause for at least six months the training of AI systems more powerful than GPT-4”.

ChatGPT, a sophisticated AI chatbot developed by OpenAI, has shocked the public with its eerie ability to produce life-like responses to all manner of questions.
ChatGPT, a sophisticated AI chatbot developed by OpenAI, has shocked the public with its eerie ability to produce life-like responses to all manner of questions. Picture: Alamy

It continued: “This pause should be public and verifiable, and include all key actors. If such a pause cannot be enacted quickly, governments should step in and institute a moratorium.”

Other notable signatories include Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, Pinterest co-founder Evan Sharp, and researchers from OpenAI's rivals Google Deepmind.

Its thought that AI regulation is lagging behind the recent rapid advances in the tech, and the letter's signatories want to see the development of industry standards to address the risk of it running out of control.

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