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Tesla chief executive Elon Musk, Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, and hundreds of other technology leaders called for a pause on the development of powerful artificial intelligence due to the “profound risks” that the nascent systems pose to mankind.
ChatGPT, an AI language processing tool, has earned worldwide recognition in recent months as knowledge workers leverage its capabilities to execute tasks such as writing emails and computer code in a matter of seconds. The breakthrough in mass-market AI has driven a race among technology firms to integrate similar systems into their search engines and products.
An open letter from the Future of Life Institute noted that recent AI developments could significantly impact information channels and employment prospects for many industries, as well as accelerate the timeframe in which AI will be able to outsmart humans. The document called for a six-month moratorium on developing AI solutions stronger than GPT-4, the latest version of ChatGPT released by OpenAI earlier this month, as the world considers possible ramifications of the technology.
“Such decisions must not be delegated to unelected tech leaders,” the letter said. “Powerful AI systems should be developed only once we are confident that their effects will be positive and their risks will be manageable. This confidence must be well justified and increase with the magnitude of a system’s potential effects.”
Beyond signatures from Musk and Wozniak, the letter was endorsed by Pinterest co-founder Evan Sharp, Ripple co-founder Chris Larsen, DeepMind research scientists Zachary Kenton and Ramana Kumar, and former presidential candidate Andrew Yang. Academics from prominent institutions such as Stanford University and Harvard University also signed the letter.
“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,” the document continued. “AI labs and independent experts should use this 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. These protocols should ensure that systems adhering to them are safe beyond a reasonable doubt.”
Musk reportedly believes ChatGPT is an example of “training AI to be woke” and has approached top researchers about creating alternatives.
The letter comes after Microsoft, which has invested billions of dollars into OpenAI, announced last month that ChatGPT would be integrated into search engine Bing and internet browser Edge, allowing users to locate information or understand websites with more ease. Google revealed one day earlier that Bard, an experimental conversational AI service, would soon be added to the company’s search engine, which has dominated the market for two decades.
Some 27% of professionals at prominent consulting, technology, and financial services companies have already used ChatGPT in various capacities, according to one survey from Fishbowl. Academics have also noted the excellent performance that ChatGPT can render on exams considered to be difficult for even the most capable students: the system performed “at or near the passing threshold” for all three components of the United States Medical Licensing Exam and earned passing scores on the multiple-choice section of the Bar Exam.
Western governments, as the letter from the technology executives suggested, have started to develop standards for ethical AI research. The United States introduced a framework for the military use of AI last month, while the United Kingdom released a paper about the necessity to take a position on AI development that prioritizes both innovation and public trust.