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‘Godfather of AI’ quits Google and gives warning about the future of technology

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Geoffrey Hinton, known as the “godfather of AI”, has quit Google with a terrifying warning about the dangers the technology poses.

Geoffrey Hinton worked at Google for more than a decade and developed technology that paved the way for current AI systems such as ChatGPT. But he had decided to quit the company so that he could sound the alarm about the dangers of artificial intelligence.

Now he has told The New York Times that he regrets the work he contributed to the field. “I console myself with the normal excuse: If I hadn’t done it, somebody else would have,” he said.

In the short term, he fears the technology will mean that people will “not be able to know what is true anymore” because of the proliferation of fake images, videos and text, he said.

But in the future, AI systems could eventually learn unexpected, dangerous behaviour, and that such systems will eventually power killer robots. He also warned that the technology could cause harmful disruption to the labour market.

“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 warned that regulation is required to ensure that companies such as Google and Microsoft do not get locked into a dangerous race. Those companies might already be working on dangerous systems in secret, he suggested.

“I don’t think they should scale this up more until they have understood whether they can control it,” he said.