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This article was published on May 30, 2023

AI poses ‘risk of extinction,’ warn European tech luminaries

The cautions keep on coming


AI poses ‘risk of extinction,’ warn European tech luminaries

Some of Europe’s top technologists today joined a global group of IT luminaries in warning that AI could lead to extinction.

At just 22 words long, their statement is short and stark:

“Mitigating the risk of extinction from AI should be a global priority alongside other societal-scale risks such as pandemics and nuclear war.”

Issued by the non-profit Center for AI Safety, the message has been signed by an array of business leaders, researchers, and public figures. They include Sam Altman, the CEO of OpenAI, Kevin Scott, the CTO of Microsoft, and, err, the musician Grimes. Her ex-boyfriend, Elon Musk, however, was a notable absentee, despite his long track record of raising concerns about the field.

A sizeable proportion of the signatories come from Europe. Among them are Demis Hassabis, the London-born CEO of Google DeepMind, Kersti Kaljulaid, the former president of Estonia, and Geoffrey Hinton, a British Turing Award-winner who recently quit Google to talk about AI’s dangers.

The statement joins a bevvy of recent alarm bells about the existential threats posed by AI.

In the last two months alone, industry leaders have called for the training of powerful AI systems to be suspended amid fears of threats to humanity; healthcare professionals have demanded a pause on developing artificial general intelligence; Musk has warned AI could cause “civilisation destruction,” and Google boss Sundar Pichai has admitted that the dangers “keep [him] up at night.”

Cynics, however, may note that many figures sounding the alarm are also resisting any AI regulations that could adversely impact their businesses.

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