Should We Pause AI Development?
In a recent open letter, Elon Musk, Steve Wozniak, and thousands of others are calling for an immediate six-month pause of the training of artificial intelligence (AI) systems more powerful than GPT-4; the letter was posted about two weeks after the public release of OpenAI’s GPT-4.
The letter, which is posted on the non-profit Future of Life Institute’s (FLI) website, quotes the Asilomar AI Principles: “the 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,” and claims that the strict management and planning for AI is not happening. The world has “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,” it stated.
It should be noted that FLI staff, in consultation with experts like Yoshua Bengio, Stuart Russell, and heads of several AI-focused NGOs, composed the letter; other prominent signatories did not participate in its development and only learned of the letter when asked to sign.
The letter states that AI systems are now becoming competitive with humans and asks: “Should we let machines flood our information channels with propaganda and untruth? Should we automate away all the jobs, including the fulfilling ones? Should we develop nonhuman minds that might eventually outnumber, outsmart, obsolete and replace us? Should we risk loss of control of our civilization?”
While those are all very valid questions, is this call for a pause on AI development really necessary?
“My perspective is that some of these tech companies are so far behind that they’re scared to death and using this as an opportunity to slow down the development of AI systems,” said Gary Kayye, founder of rAVe [PUBS] and assistant teaching professor at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. “I don’t think they’re actually scared of AI. They’re scare of the fact that Microsoft, for example, has such a big lead.”
In addition to requesting a pause on AI development, the letter goes a step further by calling for the government to step in if researchers won’t. “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.”
Following the release of the open letter, tech ethics group Center for Artificial Intelligence and Digital Policy has requested that the U.S. Federal Trade Commission stop OpenAI from issuing new commercial releases of GPT-4. In addition, UNESCO released global framework for the ethical use of artificial intelligence following the open letter.