Why Musk demands AI pause

Lazy eyes listen


Since the nonprofit Future of Life Institute posted the text last week, over 1,100 AI researchers, tech luminaries, and other futurists have signed an open letter demanding a six-month moratorium on “giant AI experiments.”

Tesla CEO Elon Musk, Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, and transhumanist historian Yuval Noah Harari are among those who have signed the letter.

The letter warns that “AI systems with human-competitive intelligence can pose profound risks to society and humanity,” and that rapidly advancing technology should be “planned for and managed with commensurate care and resources,” rather than a “out-of-control race to develop and deploy ever more powerful digital minds that no one – not even their creators – can understand, predict, or reliably control.”

“Rather than risk losing control of a potentially civilization-ending technology, the institute recommends that AI stakeholders “jointly develop and implement a set of shared safety protocols for advanced AI design and development that are rigorously audited and overseen by independent outside experts,” pausing development until those protocols are in place. It stated that safety “beyond a reasonable doubt,” rather than innovation at all costs, should be the goal.

“Powerful AI systems should be developed only when we are confident that their effects will be positive and their risks will be manageable,” the letter continues, urging developers to refocus their efforts on “making today’s powerful state-of-the-art systems more accurate, safe, interpretable, transparent, robust, aligned, trustworthy, and loyal.”

If developers are unable to govern themselves, governments must step in, establishing regulatory bodies capable of reining in runaway systems, funding safety research, and softening the economic blow when super intelligent systems begin to gobble up human jobs in earnest, according to the letter.

Musk has long warned about the dangers of artificial intelligence, predicting in 2020 that the singularity – the point at which machine intelligence surpasses human intelligence – would arrive by 2025 and that humans risk becoming supercomputers’ pets. He first proposed the Neuralink brain-computer interface as a tool to help humanity compete with AI.

The billionaire was also a co-founder of OpenAI, the company that created the ground-breaking large language model ChatGPT. He left the company in 2018, however, dismissing it as a profit-driven venture co-opted by Microsoft. Musk’s competitor (and Microsoft founder) Bill Gates, whose name was missing from the open letter as of Wednesday, has embraced OpenAI, recently declaring that “the Age of AI has begun.”