Dr. Hinton's resignation from Google highlights the depth of the concerns among those in the upper ranks of AI research.
Dr. Geoffrey Hinton, often celebrated and endearingly called the godfather of AI, has recently resigned from Google citing concerns over the potential dangers of AI. Dr. Hinton has warned people of the flood of misinformation, the possibility of AI disrupting the job market, and the existential threat posed by creating a true “digital intelligence.”
Dr. Hinton, who developed a neural net in 2012 with two of his students at the University of Toronto, joined Google a decade ago to develop the company's AI technology. The approach, which he pioneered, led the way for current systems such as ChatGPT.
Misinformation and the Dangers of AI
Dr. Hinton's concerns with AI include the proliferation of misinformation, which can be exploited by "bad actors" to manipulate electorates. AI chatbots have the daunting capacity to produce lots of text automatically, leading to the creation of “highly effective spambots.” Dr. Hinton warns that this could enable authoritarian leaders to manipulate their electorates and endanger democracy.
Moreover, Dr. Hinton expressed concerns over the existential risk of AI becoming more intelligent than humans. He believes that the kind of intelligence under development is very different from the intelligence humans possess. With chatbots having access to the collective intelligence of humanity, they could know more than any singular person, and Dr. Hinton fears that they could eventually become more intelligent than humans themselves. “The idea that this stuff could actually get smarter than people — a few people believed that,” he said. “But most people thought it was way off. And I thought it was way off. I thought it was 30 to 50 years or even longer away. Obviously, I no longer think that,” he added.
The Job Market and AI
Dr. Hinton also warned of AI toppling the job market, replacing professions such as paralegals, personal assistants, and other "drudge work." This will not only impact low-skilled jobs but potentially highly skilled ones as well.
IBM CEO Arvind Krishna has stated that the adoption of artificial intelligence could replace nearly 30% of its workforce, amounting to 7,800 jobs. This follows a similar move by Alphabet (parent company of Google) and Microsoft who both cut thousands of jobs and increased AI spending. The World Economic Forum released its "Future of Jobs" report, which estimated that nearly 14 million jobs could be eliminated by 2027 due primarily to increased automation of many work tasks. Chegg, a homework help platform, reported that AI tools like ChatGPT have vastly impacted its business, and the company is working with OpenAI to develop its own AI technology, CheggMate. The report found that with the increasing integration of technology, creative and analytical thinking skills were among the most desirable traits in workers now, and in the next five years.