A group of tech leaders, professors, and researchers have called for a pause on the training of the most powerful artificial intelligence (AI) systems for at least six months. Elon Musk, Bill Gates, and Steve Wozniak were among the dozens of signatories to the letter published by the Future of Life Institute, a nonprofit backed by Musk. The letter stated that there were "profound risks to society and humanity" and urged a pause on AI systems deemed "more powerful than GPT-4," which was announced by OpenAI just two weeks ago. The letter called for the development of shared protocols for AI tools to ensure safety "beyond a reasonable doubt" and suggested that governments should step in and create a moratorium if a pause is not put in place soon.
The recent wave of attention around ChatGPT, an AI chatbot tool, has sparked an arms race among tech companies to develop and deploy similar AI tools in their products. OpenAI, Microsoft, and Google are at the forefront of this trend. However, concerns have been raised about the potential for biased responses, the ability to spread misinformation, and the impact on consumer privacy. These tools have also sparked questions about how AI can upend professions, enable students to cheat, and shift our relationship with technology.
While the letter shows legitimate concerns among tech leaders over the unregulated usage of AI technologies, some have criticized parts of the petition as "ridiculous." Lian Jye Su, an analyst at ABI Research, suggested that the premise of asking for a hiatus in AI development beyond GPT-4 could help some of the people who signed the letter preserve their dominance in the field. Musk was a founding member of OpenAI but left three years later and has since criticized the company.
The letter hints at the broader discomfort inside and outside the industry with the rapid pace of advancement in AI. Some governing agencies in China, the EU, and Singapore have introduced early versions of AI governance frameworks. While some believe that the pause is necessary to ensure safety and develop shared protocols, others suggest that the call for a hiatus is premature and could hinder progress in the field.