May 1 — Dr. Geoffrey Hinton’s pioneering innovation in the field of computer-based neural networks has provided a foundation for the systems that tech companies believe are keys to the future.
On Monday, Hinton joined a chorus of critics who say that tech companies are playing with fire in pursuing aggressive campaigns to develop products based on generative AI.
Hinton has voluntarily left his position at Google, where he has worked for more than 10 years, in order to speak about the risks of AI. He has publicly stated that a part of him now regrets his life’s work.
“I console myself with the normal excuse: If I hadn’t done it, somebody else would have,” said Hinton in an interview.
Groundbreaker to activist
Dr. Hinton’s shift from an AI groundbreaker to an almost anti-AI activist represents a poignant moment for the AI industry. It’s not just Hinton – many industry insiders fear that unleashing AI will imperil our world as we know it.
Generative AI can spread misinformation, malware and malaise. In addition, it could devalue certain jobs or threaten them in entirety.
“It’s hard to see how you can prevent the bad actors from using it for bad things,” said Dr. Hinton.
In 2012, Google acquired a company that Dr. Hinton had started with two of his students; Ilya Sutskever and Alex Krishevsky. Although the company was ultimately sold to Google for $44 million, the systems created within it power both Google Bard and ChatGPT. Ilya Sutskever became the Chief Scientist for OpenAI.
In 2018, Dr. Hinton and two other long-time collaborators celebrated their receipt of the Turing Award, often called “The Nobel Prize of computing,” on account of their work on neural networks.
The current chief scientist at Google says that Dr. Hinton “has made foundational breakthroughs,” expressing his appreciation for Dr. Hinton’s work.
Google remains committed to a responsible approach to AI. In July, the company fired an engineer who claimed that an unreleased AI system had become sentient.
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