The ‘godfather of AI’ leaves Google after a decade to warn society about the technology


Artificial intelligence pioneer Geoffrey Hinton speaks at the Thomson Reuters Financial and Risk Summit in Toronto on December 4, 2017.

Mark Blinch | reuters

Geoffrey Hinton, known as the “Godfather of AI”, earned his Ph.D. 45 years ago in Artificial Intelligence and remains one of the most respected voices in the field.

Hinton over the past decade worked part time But Google, between the company’s Silicon Valley headquarters and Toronto. But he has left the internet giant, and he told the New York Times That he would warn the world about the potential threat of AI, which he said is coming sooner than he previously thought.

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“I thought it was 30 to 50 years or so away,” Hinton told the Times in a story published Monday. “Obviously, I don’t think so anymore.”

Hinton, who was named the 2018 Turing Award winner for his conceptual and engineering breakthroughs, said he now has some regrets about his life’s work, the Times reports. He cited the near-term risks of AI taking over jobs and the proliferation of fake photos, videos and text that appear real to the average person.

In a statement to CNBC, Hinton said, “Now I think the digital intelligences we’re building are very, very different from biological intelligences.”

Hinton referenced the power of GPT-4, the most advanced large language model, or LLM, from startup OpenAI, whose technology has gone viral since the chatbot ChatGPT launched late last year. Here’s how he described what’s happening now:

Hinton told CNBC, “If I have 1,000 digital agents that are all exact clones with the same weight, then whenever an agent learns to do something, they all know it immediately because they share the weight.” “Biological agents cannot do this. So a collection of identical digital agents can acquire much more knowledge than any individual biological agent. This is why GPT-4 knows much more than any one individual.”

Bill Gates calls OpenAI's GPT the most important technological advance since the 1980s

Hinton was sounding the alarm even before he left Google. in an interview with cbs news After the broadcast in March, Hinton was asked what he thought was “the possibility of AI just wiping out humanity.” He replied, “It’s not implausible. That’s all I’ll say.”

google ceo sundar pichai done in public warned of the risks AI’s. He told “60 Minutes” last month that society was not prepared for what was to come. At the same time, Google is showing off its own products, such as self-learning robots and Bard, its ChatGPT competitor.

But when asked whether “the speed of change could exceed our ability to adapt,” Pichai downplayed the risk. “I don’t think so. We are an infinitely adaptable species,” he said.

Over the past year, Hinton has reduced his time at Google, according to an internal document seen by CNBC. In March 2022, that goes to 20% of full time. Later in the year he was assigned to a new team within Brain Research. His most recent role was Vice President and Engineering Fellow, reporting to Jeff Dean within Google Brain.

In an emailed statement to CNBC, Dean said he commended Hinton for “his decade of contributions at Google.”

“I will miss her, and I wish her well!” Dean wrote. “As one of the first companies to publish AI theory, we are committed to a responsible approach to AI. We are constantly learning to adapt to emerging risks while innovating fearlessly.”

Hinton’s departure is a high-profile loss for Google Brain, the team behind much of the company’s work in AI. Several years ago, Google reportedly spent $44 million to acquire the company started by Hinton and two of his students in 2012.

His research group made major breakthroughs in deep learning, which accelerated speech recognition and object classification. Their technology will help create new ways to use AI, including ChatGPT and Bard.

google has mobilization teams To integrate Bard’s technology and LL.M. into more products and services across the company. Last month, the company said it would to merge Brain with DeepMind will “significantly accelerate our progress in AI.”

According to the Times, Hinton said she quit her job at Google so she could speak freely about the risks of AI. He told the newspaper, “I console myself with the usual excuse: if I hadn’t done it, someone else would have.”

Hinton Tweeted on Monday, “I quit so I could talk about the dangers of AI without considering how it affects Google. Google has acted very responsibly.”

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