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AI Poses Extinction Risk, as Bad as Nuclear War, AI CEOs Say

Among the critics of the viral technology were Geoffrey Hinton and Yoshua Bengio – two of the three so-called “godfathers of AI”

artificial intelligence
AGI refers to artificial general intelligence — technology that OpenAI defines as autonomous systems that surpass humans in most economically valuable tasks. Photo: Reuters


Chiefs of artificial intelligence (AI) firms, including ChatGPT creator OpenAI’s CEO Sam Altman, said the viral technology posed the “risk of extinction”, in a letter along with AI experts and professors.

“Mitigating the risk of extinction from AI should be a global priority alongside other societal-scale risks such as pandemics and nuclear war,” more than 350 signatories wrote in a letter published by the non-profit Center for AI Safety (CAIS).

Apart from Altman, signatories included the CEOs of AI firms DeepMind and Anthropic, and executives from Microsoft and Google.


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Also among them were Geoffrey Hinton and Yoshua Bengio – two of the three so-called “godfathers of AI”. The two received the 2018 Turing Award for their work on deep learning.

Professors from institutions ranging from Harvard to China’s Tsinghua University also signed the letter.

A subsequent statement from CAIS singled out Meta, where the third godfather of AI, Yann LeCun, works, for not signing the letter.

The letter coincided with the US-EU Trade and Technology Council meeting in Sweden where politicians are expected to talk about regulating AI.

Elon Musk and a group of AI experts and industry executives were the first ones to cite potential risks to society in April.

Recent developments in AI have created tools supporters say can be used in applications from medical diagnostics to writing legal briefs. But this has sparked fears AI could lead to privacy violations, power misinformation campaigns, and lead to issues with “smart machines” thinking for themselves.

AI pioneer Hinton earlier said that AI could pose a “more urgent” threat to humanity than climate change. Hinton quit Google earlier this month citing AI “risks to humanity”. He said AI could flood the internet with misinformation, destroy the global job market and spur the creation autonomous weapons like “robot soldiers”.

On May 17, OpenAI’s Altman, testifying before US lawmakers, said the AI industry could “cause significant harm to the world”. However, last week, he referred to EU AI – the first efforts to create a regulation for AI – as over-regulation and threatened to leave Europe. He reversed his stance within days after criticism from politicians.


  • Reuters, with additional editing by Vishakha Saxena


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Vishakha Saxena

Vishakha Saxena is the Multimedia and Social Media Editor at Asia Financial. She has worked as a digital journalist since 2013, and is an experienced writer and multimedia producer. As a trader and investor, she is keenly interested in new economy, emerging markets and the intersections of finance and society. You can write to her at [email protected]


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