Elon Musk, tech leaders call for pause on AI development

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Tech leaders including Elon Musk and Steve Wozniak, along with over 1,000 AI experts, are calling for a pause on the development of powerful new AI systems citing potential risks to society.

In an open letter issued by the Future of Life Institute, they urged AI developers to "immediately pause for at least 6 months the training of AI systems more powerful than GPT-4."

GPT-4 is the latest deep learning model from OpenAI, which "exhibits human-level performance on various professional and academic benchmarks," according to the lab.

The signatories argue that safety protocols need to be developed by independent overseers to guide the future of AI systems, and that powerful AI systems should be developed only once their positive effects are certain and risks are manageable.

The letter warns that powerful AI tools developed in AI labs cannot be reliably controlled, predicted, or understood at this stage, and cites risks such as propaganda and lies spread through AI-generated articles that look real, as well as the possibility of AI programmes outperforming workers and making jobs obsolete.

The undersigned tech experts call for a pause to jointly develop and implement a set of shared safety protocols for advanced AI design and development that are rigorously audited and overseen by independent outside experts.

They also emphasise that AI development in general should not be paused, but rather a stepping back from the dangerous race to ever-larger unpredictable black-box models with emergent capabilities.

According to the European Union's transparency register, the Future of Life Institute is primarily funded by the Musk Foundation, as well as London-based effective altruism group Founders Pledge, and Silicon Valley Community Foundation.

Musk, whose electric car company Tesla uses AI for its autopilot system, has previously raised concerns about the rapid development of AI.

The letter's signatories include Stability AI CEO Emad Mostaque, researchers at Alphabet-owned DeepMind, and AI heavyweights Yoshua Bengio and Stuart Russell.

Notably absent from the letter's signatories was Sam Altman, CEO of OpenAI.

Since the release of Microsoft-backed OpenAI's ChatGPT last year, rivals have accelerated the development of similar large language models, and companies have integrated generative AI models into their products.

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