Why 'Godfather' of artificial intelligence had to 'blow the whistle' on technology


Geoffrey Hinton, also known as the "Godfather of AI," decided he had to "blow the whistle" on the technology he helped develop after worrying about how smart it was becoming, he told CNN on Tuesday.

"I'm just a scientist who suddenly realized that these things are getting smarter than us," Hinton told CNN's Jake Tapper in an interview on Tuesday.

"I want to sort of blow the whistle and say we should worry seriously about how we stop these things getting control over us."

Hinton's pioneering work on neural networks shaped artificial intelligence systems powering many of today's products. On Monday, he made headlines for leaving his role at Google, where he had worked for a decade, in order to speak openly about his growing concerns around the technology.

In an interview Monday with the New York Times, which was first to report his move, Hinton said he was concerned about AI's potential to eliminate jobs and create a world where many will "not be able to know what is true anymore."

He also pointed to the stunning pace of advancement, far beyond what he and others had anticipated.

"If it gets to be much smarter than us, it will be very good at manipulation because it will have learned that from us, and there are very few examples of a more intelligent thing being controlled by a less intelligent thing," Hinton told Tapper on Tuesday.

"It knows how to program so it'll figure out ways of getting around restrictions we put on it. It'll figure out ways of manipulating people to do what it wants."

Hinton is not the only tech leader to speak out with concerns over AI. A number of members of the community signed a letter in March calling for artificial intelligence labs to stop the training of the most powerful AI systems for at least six months, citing "profound risks to society and humanity."

The letter, published by the Future of Life Institute, a nonprofit backed by Elon Musk, came just two weeks after OpenAI announced GPT-4, an even more powerful version of the technology that powers the viral chatbot ChatGPT.

In early tests and a company demo, GPT-4 was used to draft lawsuits, pass standardized exams and build a working website from a hand-drawn sketch.

Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, who was one of the signatories on the letter, appeared on "CNN This Morning" on Tuesday, echoing concerns about its potential to spread misinformation.

"Tricking is going to be a lot easier for those who want to trick you," Wozniak told CNN.

"We're not really making any changes in that regard -- we're just assuming that the laws we have will take care of it."

Wozniak also said "some type" of regulation is probably needed.

Hinton, for his part, told CNN he did not sign the petition.

"I don't think we can stop the progress," he said.

"I didn't sign the petition saying we should stop working on AI because if people in America stop, people in China wouldn't."

But he confessed to not having a clear answer for what to do instead.

"It's not clear to me that we can solve this problem," Hinton told Tapper.

"I believe we should put a big effort into thinking about ways to solve the problem. I don't have a solution at present."