Govt says it's monitoring artificial intelligence's implications as hundreds of tech leaders call to pause its development

Some of the biggest names in technology have pushed the alarm button over the rise of artificial intelligence. They say it could pose a "profound risk to society and humanity".

Hundreds of experts have signed an open letter calling for a six-month pause in the development of major new systems.

The threat of AI waking up to its own intelligence now has even the smartest of people worried. 

An open letter has been signed by hundreds of leaders and experts in the tech space, including the co-founder of Apple Steve Wozniak and the CEO of SpaceX, Tesla and Twitter Elon Musk. 

They warn AI should be "managed with commensurate care" but unfortunately, "this level of planning and management is not happening" and AI labs are developing digital minds that "no one – not even their creators – can understand, predict, or reliably control".

"It's asking for all of the companies that are developing large AI systems to basically stop what they're doing," Auckland University research fellow Dr Andrew Chin said.

"It only works if everybody stops."

The letter comes just weeks after the launch of GPT-4, an even more powerful version of the viral AI tool, ChatGPT. 

International economists warn 300 million full-time jobs around the world could be on the line because of it. 

The New Zealand Council of Trade Unions (NZCTU) said while job losses are inevitable, we just need to be smart about it. 

"These technologies could displace jobs. The trick is to transition work into other work, that's better," NZCTU president Richard Wagstaff said.

There's currently no national regulation or strategy in place for AI in New Zealand but experts here said that needs to change. 

"There's a lot of issues there that we definitely need to join the international community on," Wagstaff said. "We shouldn't sit back and be last at that."

But they also say there's no need to panic.

"There's a lot of people out there saying that this is either going to save the world or destroy it - none of those things are going to realistically happen," Brainbox Institute senior consultant Allyn Robins said.

The Government said it's closely monitoring this technology and its implications, and is committed to making sure it's used ethically. 

"In human history, it's a very profound moment - so let's make sure we get it right," Wagstaff said.

Because they say there might not be a second chance if we get it wrong.