Ex-Google CEO Eric Schmidt warns pausing ChatGPT-like AI will benefit China

Schmidt thinks that if the AI sector doesn't create protections, politicians will have to step in.
Baba Tamim
Former Google CEO Eric Schmidt.
Former Google CEO Eric Schmidt.

Wikimedia Commons 

Eric Schmidt, the former CEO of Google, has spoken out against the six-month ban on AI development that some tech celebrities and business executives demanded earlier.

A halt supported by tech leaders like Elon Musk and Steve Wozniak, would "simply benefit China," the former Google CEO told the Australian Financial Review on Thursday. 

"I'm not in favor of a six-month pause, because it will simply benefit China," said Schmidt, Google's first CEO.

"What I am in favor of is getting everybody together ASAP to discuss what are the appropriate guardrails."

However, Schmidt asserts that humanity might not yet be able to understand the dangers posed by AI, which could be a problem in and of itself.

"I think the concerns could be understated. I think…things could be worse than people are saying," he said, alluding to tech companies developing AI.

"You have a scenario here where you have these large language models that, as they get bigger, have emergent behavior we don't understand."

'Market demands' AI

Schmidt's comments coincide with the global AI revolution that has been sparked by tools like ChatGPT and the AI image-generator Midjourney.

Corporations like Google, Meta, and Microsoft, as well as Chinese companies like Baidu, have been frantically trying to predict what will come next in the field of artificial intelligence.

When Ernie Bot, a chatbot like ChatGPT, was introduced in March, it disappointed Chinese investors, causing Baidu to lose $3 billion in market value. Yet, that hasn't stopped the business from later enhancing its chatbot capabilities, noted a report by Fortune

"It is not perfect yet, so why do we need to launch it today?" Baidu CEO Robin Li said during the launch. "Because the market demands it."

Open letter to pause AI 

Last month, an open letter addressing AI labs called to halt the development of sophisticated AI systems in order to address concerns about abuse and the serious "risks to society and humanity."

A temporary prohibition, a minimum 6-month "moratorium," and an urgent halt to the development of AI systems more robust than GPT-4 were demanded by over 1,000 powerful leaders.

Schmidt is of the opinion that researchers should release AI algorithms with "some kind of mitigation for things that it could do that are negative," despite the worries raised in the letter.

Schmidt thinks that if the sector doesn't create protections, politicians will have to step in, but he also points out that government answers at the moment are awkward since they don't take the technology into account, noted Australian Financial Review.

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