Artificial intelligence threatens extinction, experts say in new warning

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Scientists and tech industry leaders, including executives at Microsoft and Google, have issued a new warning about the perils that artificial intelligence poses to humankind

Britain Altman AI

LONDON (AP) — Scientists and tech industry leaders, including high-level executives at Microsoft and Google, issued a new warning Tuesday about the perils that artificial intelligence poses to humankind.

“Mitigating the risk of extinction from AI should be a global priority alongside other societal-scale risks such as pandemics and nuclear war,” said the statement posted online.

Sam Altman, CEO of ChatGPT maker OpenAI, and Geoffrey Hinton, a computer scientist known as the godfather of artificial intelligence, were among the hundreds of leading figures who signed the statement, which was posted on the Center for AI Safety's website.

Worries about artificial intelligence systems outsmarting humans and running wild have intensified with the rise of a new generation of highly capable AI chatbots such as ChatGPT.

The latest warning was intentionally succinct — just a single sentence — to encompass a broad coalition of scientists who might not agree on the most likely risks or the best solutions to prevent them, said Dan Hendrycks, executive director of the San Francisco-based Center for AI Safety.

“There’s a variety of people from all top universities in various different fields who are concerned by this and think that this is a global priority,” Hendrycks said. “So we had to get people to sort of come out of the closet, so to speak, on this issue, because many were sort of silently speaking among each other.”

More than 1,000 researchers and technologists, including Elon Musk, had signed a much longer letter earlier this year calling for a six-month pause on AI development because, they said, it poses “profound risks to society and humanity.”

Countries around the world are scrambling to come up with regulations for the developing technology, with the European Union blazing the trail with its AI Act expected to be approved later this year.

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O'Brien reported from Providence, Rhode Island.

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