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10 Apr, 2024 08:10

Godfather of AI warns of ‘battle robots’

The technology is becoming much more intelligent than people, and could take over, Geoffrey Hinton says
Godfather of AI warns of ‘battle robots’

The world could encounter major disasters before the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) weapons is regulated in a proper manner, according to Turing Award-winning scientist Geoffrey Hinton, seen as a pioneer of the technology.

The former Google engineer, who quit the company last year, compared the use of the technology for military purposes to chemical weapons deployment – warning that “very nasty things” will occur before the global community arrives at a comprehensive agreement comparable to the Geneva Conventions.

“The threat I spoke out about is the existential threat,” Professor Hinton said on Tuesday in an interview with Irish broadcaster RTE News, emphasising that “these things will get much more intelligent than us and they will take over.”

The computer scientist highlighted the impact of AI on disinformation and job displacement, and also on weapons of the future.

“One of the threats is ‘battle robots’ which will make it much easier for rich countries to wage war on smaller, poorer countries and they are going to be very nasty and I think they are inevitably coming,” Hinton warned.

He urged governments to put pressure on tech majors, especially in California, to conduct in-depth research on the safety of AI technology.

“Rather than it being an afterthought, there should be government incentives to ensure companies put a lot of work into safety and some of that is happening now,” Hinton said.

The scientist also highlighted huge benefits that AI can bring to humanity, particularly in healthcare, adding that he does not regret any of his contributions to the technology.

Despite the mounting interest in AI, several high-profile figures in the tech industry have warned of the potential dangers posed by the unregulated adoption of the technology. Hinton, who quit Google last year, has waged a media campaign to warn of the risks. Tesla CEO Elon Musk, Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak and Yoshua Bengio, who is considered an AI pioneer for his work on neural networks, were among the top industry figures to co-sign a letter last year calling for aggressive regulation of the AI sector.

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