Some of the biggest names in technology are calling for a temporary pause on artificial intelligence developments amid concerns the industry could be getting ahead of itself.
Elon Musk, Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, and several other big names in computer science and tech signed an open letter Wednesday, requesting a six-month pause on the "out-of-control" AI race.
The petition comes following OpenAI's recent release of its GPT-4 technology, a much more advanced version of its popular AI chatbot ChatGPT. Microsoft and Google have also unveiled similar AI-powered chatbots in recent months.
"Advanced AI could represent a profound change in the history of life on Earth, and should be planned for and managed with commensurate care and resources," the letter reads. "Unfortunately, this level of planning and management is not happening, even though recent months have seen AI labs locked in an out-of-control race to develop and deploy ever more powerful digital minds that no one – not even their creators – can understand, predict, or reliably control."
The letter doesn't call for a complete halt on AI development, but rather a step back from the "dangerous race" to create unpredictable technology.
It also warns that AI systems are becoming "human-competitive" and could potentially automate millions of jobs, transforming the global economy as we know it.
“We call on all AI labs to immediately pause for at least 6 months the training of AI systems more powerful than GPT-4,” the letter says. “This pause should be public and verifiable, and include all key actors. If such a pause cannot be enacted quickly, governments should step in and institute a moratorium.”
Some governments are already working on ways to regulate AI. In May 2019, the United States joined other democracies in a pact to establish intergovernmental principles for trustworthy AI development.
"The principles promote inclusive growth, human-centered values, transparency, safety and security, and accountability," according to the U.S. State Department.
While the letter raises various concerns about the possibilities of AI, you shouldn't worry that you'll wake up tomorrow to a scene straight out of the movie "I, Robot."
AI-powered technologies like ChatGPT, while impressive, are just language models that are programmed to understand human language and respond in a natural, conversational way.
However, the technology has made huge advancements in recent years and it's only a matter of time before a newer, smarter, and more capable AI emerges.
As the letter states, "society has hit pause on other technologies with potentially catastrophic effects" and "we can do so here."