AI could lead to extinction: Another AI 'godfather' rings alarm bells

A statement warning against the risks of AI has been signed by CEOs of OpenAI and Google DeepMind.
Sejal Sharma
Professor Yoshua Bengio feels "lost" over his life's work
Professor Yoshua Bengio feels "lost" over his life's work

Wikimedia Commons 

After Geoffrey Hinton’s startling warning over the many dangers posed by artificial intelligence, yet another AI ‘godfather’ has sounded the alarm over the pace at which the technology is evolving.

In a BBC interview, another of the so-called godfathers of machine learning, Professor Yoshua Bengio, said that he felt "lost" over his life's work.

"It is challenging, emotionally speaking, for people who are inside [the AI sector]. You could say I feel lost. But you have to keep going and you have to engage, discuss, encourage others to think with you," said the Canadian computer scientist.

A professor at the University of Montreal, Yoshua Bengio is a well-known industry leader in deep learning and has been lauded for his groundbreaking work in AI.

Remember, another ‘godfather’ of AI, Geoffrey Hinton quit his job at Google earlier this month to speak freely about AI's risks.

Professor Bengio’s remarks come a day after a statement was published by the Center of AI Safety (CAIS), a research nonprofit, warning that artificial intelligence could lead to the extinction of the human race.

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

The statement has been signed by the likes of Bengio, Hinton, OpenAI CEO Sam Altman, Google DeepMind CEO Demis Hassabis, and other AI scientists and noted figures.

The CAIS, in one of its blogs, says: “When AI becomes more advanced, it could eventually pose catastrophic or existential risks. There are many ways in which AI systems could pose or contribute to large-scale risks…”

The website enumerates how AI can be used as a political weapon. This sentiment was echoed by the OpenAI CEO, who appeared in front of a Senate committee recently and said that AI interfering with election integrity is a "significant area of concern.”

Calls for regulation

Professor Bengio further told the BBC that all AI companies must be registered. "Governments need to track what they're doing, they need to be able to audit them, and that's just the minimum thing we do for any other sector like building airplanes or cars or pharmaceuticals.”

“We also need the people close to these systems to have a kind of certification... we need ethical training here. Computer scientists don't usually get that, by the way," he added.

Countries across the globe are grappling to regulate AI, as its full potential remains unknown. U.S President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris had a meeting with tech industries’ bigwigs like Altman, Anthropic CEO Dario Amodei, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, and Google CEO Sundar Pichai earlier this month to address the risks associated with AI and the responsibility that their respective companies need to take to ensure safety and privacy.

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