Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates has issued his first public remarks in response to a proposal endorsed by Elon Musk and scores of artificial intelligence experts who demanded an urgent pause to the development of advanced forms of AI due to “profound risks to society and humanity.”
Gates told Reuters in an interview that calls to pause the development of AI won’t “solve the challenges” ahead, that a stoppage would be hard to implement globally, and that the rationale for doing so isn’t clear.
Last week, Musk added his signature to a letter issued by the nonprofit Future of Life Institute that warned that AI labs are currently locked in an “out-of-control race” to develop and put to use “ever more powerful digital minds” that cannot be fully understood, much less reliably controlled.
Musk and what is, at last count, over 10,000 signatories—including Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak and engineers from Meta and Google—called on all AI labs to “immediately pause” training of systems more powerful than Chat GPT-4 for at least six months.
The letter doesn’t call for a halt to AI development in general, just the most advanced systems in what the experts described as an act of “merely a stepping back from the dangerous race to ever-larger unpredictable black-box models with emergent capabilities.”
‘Catastrophic’ Impacts on Society
The experts warned that AI systems with human-competitive intelligence could pose “profound risks to society and humanity” and should be planned for and managed carefully to avoid potentially “catastrophic” impacts on the world and its people.
“Having succeeded in creating powerful AI systems, we can now enjoy an ‘AI summer’ in which we reap the rewards, engineer these systems for the clear benefit of all, and give society a chance to adapt,” the experts said.
“Society has hit pause on other technologies with potentially catastrophic effects on society. We can do so here. Let’s enjoy a long AI summer, not rush unprepared into a fall,” they argued.
By Tom Ozimek