For more than a decade, Geoffrey Hinton helped lay the groundwork for the artificial intelligence systems millions of people use today. His research is undoubtedly changing the world — and Hinton wishes he could change it right back.
In an interview with The New York Times published Monday, the 75-year-old said he resigned from Google so that he could speak freely about the looming dangers of the technology he helped create.
"I console myself with the normal excuse: If I hadn't done it, somebody else would have," he said to the publication.
In the NYT today, Cade Metz implies that I left Google so that I could criticize Google. Actually, I left so that I could talk about the dangers of AI without considering how this impacts Google. Google has acted very responsibly.
— Geoffrey Hinton (@geoffreyhinton) May 1, 2023
Hinton, often called the "Godfather of AI," said he had previously thought these systems were "30 to 50 years or even longer away." But with ChatGPT quickly revolutionizing the tech world, and companies like Microsoft and Google racing to control the field, it’s clear the future is already here.
"Look at how it was five years ago and how it is now," he said of AI. "Take the difference and propagate it forwards. That’s scary."
Hinton told the Times his immediate concern is that the average person will "not be able to know what is true anymore." He also said he worries about AI’s effect on the job market and its potential ability to eclipse human intelligence.
"I don’t think they should scale this up more until they have understood whether they can control it," he said.
His comments join a growing number of tech experts, lawmakers and advocacy groups who are trying to crack down on AI, with the Federal Trade Commission saying in April it will hold AI to the same account as other business tools.
In March, more than 1,000 leaders in tech signed an open letter calling for all artificial intelligence labs to pause the most powerful AI training systems for at least six months, saying they "can pose profound risks to society and humanity."
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