AI-focused tech firms locked in ‘race to the bottom’, warns MIT professor | Technology
Physicist Max Tegmark, a co-founder of the Future of Life Institute, has warned that tech executives are trapped in a fierce competition that prevents them from pausing the development of powerful artificial intelligence (AI) systems. Tegmark organized an open letter in March, signed by more than 30,000 individuals including Elon Musk and Steve Wozniak, calling for a six-month halt in the development of giant AI systems. However, the letter failed to convince leading AI companies such as Google, OpenAI, and Microsoft to pause their work on AI models more powerful than GPT-4.
The Intense Competition in AI Development
Tegmark explains that while many corporate leaders privately expressed support for a pause in AI development, they felt trapped in a “race to the bottom” against each other. This intense competition prevents any single company from pausing their work, as they fear falling behind their competitors. The failure to secure a hiatus in developing advanced AI systems highlights the extent of this competition.
Impact of the Open Letter
Tegmark views the open letter as a success, as it has sparked a political awakening and increased awareness about AI. The letter’s publication led to US Senate hearings with tech executives and the UK government organizing a global summit on AI safety. It has also made discussions around AI socially acceptable, allowing experts and politicians to openly express their concerns about the risks associated with AI development.
Fears and Concerns about AI
The concerns surrounding AI development are diverse, ranging from immediate issues like the creation of deepfake videos and the spread of disinformation, to more existential risks posed by super-intelligent AIs. Tegmark emphasizes that the development of “god-like general intelligence” should not be seen as a distant threat, as some AI practitioners believe it could become a reality within a few years. The need to address these risks is becoming increasingly urgent.
As a result, Tegmark’s warning about the intense competition in AI development and the failure to pause the development of advanced AI systems highlights the need for a more comprehensive discussion and regulation of AI to ensure its safe and responsible development.
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