Geoffrey Hinton, a scientist regarded as the godfather of artificial intelligence (AI), has quit his job at Google over fears of growing dangers from innovations in the field.

Hinton announced his resignation in a statement shared with the New York Times on Monday, saying he now regrets his work.

In 2012, Hinton and two of his graduate students at the University of Toronto created the technology that became the intellectual foundation for AI systems.

Commenting on recent advancements in the field, Hinton said tech companies are racing toward danger with their aggressive campaign to create products based on generative AI, the technology that powers popular chatbots like ChatGPT.

“I console myself with the normal excuse: If I hadn’t done it, somebody else would have. It is hard to see how you can prevent the bad actors from using it for bad things,” the Times quoted the scientist as saying.

In a separate interview with the BBC on Tuesday, Hinton described the situation as a nightmare.

“This is just a kind of worst-case scenario, kind of a nightmare scenario. You can imagine, for example, some bad actor like [Russian President Vladimir] Putin decided to give robots the ability to create their own sub-goals,” he said.

“I’ve come to the conclusion that the kind of intelligence we’re developing is very different from the intelligence we have. We’re biological systems and these are digital systems. And the big difference is that with digital systems, you have many copies of the same set of weights, the same model of the world.

“And all these copies can learn separately but share their knowledge instantly. So it’s as if you had 10,000 people and whenever one person learnt something, everybody automatically knew it. And that’s how these chatbots can know so much more than any one person.”

He expressed fears that AI systems may soon become more intelligent than humans and warned that there was a need to worry

“Right now, they’re not more intelligent than us, as far as I can tell. But I think they soon may be,” he said.

“Right now, what we’re seeing is things like GPT-4 eclipses a person in the amount of general knowledge it has and it eclipses them by a long way. In terms of reasoning, it’s not as good, but it does already do simple reasoning.

“And given the rate of progress, we expect things to get better quite fast. So we need to worry about that.”



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