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Monday, May 29, 2023

AI pioneer Geoffrey Hinton worried over its harm; quits  Google

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Geoffrey Hinton, a pioneer in artificial intelligence, developed the technology that served as the theoretical underpinning for the A.I. systems that the largest tech corporations feel would be essential to their future. He joined the chorus of opponents on Monday who claim that those businesses are rushing into danger with their ambitious push to develop generative artificial intelligence-based solutions. Dr. Hinton left his position at Google, where he had spent more than ten years, so that he could openly discuss the dangers of artificial intelligence. He regrets his life’s work and thinks that someone else would have finished it if he hadn’t.

Industry leaders predict that the new A.I. systems could have the same impact as the early 1990s launch of the web browser and result in advancements in everything from drug research to education. But many industry insiders are plagued by a worry that they are discharging something hazardous into the wild. The Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence, a 40-year-old academic society, released a letter warning of the risks of A.I., including Eric Horvitz, chief scientific officer at Microsoft. Generative A.I. can already be a tool for spreading misinformation. Soon, it could be a risk to jobs.

Dr. Hinton, known as “the Godfather of A.I.,” refused to sign either letter and stated he would reserve public criticism of Google or other businesses until after he had left his position. He gave Google notice of his resignation last month, and on Thursday he spoke over the phone with Sundar Pichai, the CEO of Alphabet, the parent company of Google.

According to a statement from Google’s head scientist, Jeff Dean, the company is still dedicated to using artificial intelligence responsibly. The entire academic career of Dr. Hinton, a 75-year-old British expat, was motivated by his personal beliefs regarding the creation and application of artificial intelligence. While a graduate student at the University of Edinburgh in 1972, he adopted the concept of a neural network.

In the 1980s, Dr. Hinton taught computer science at Carnegie Mellon University, but he left because he disagreed with the application of AI to combat. He developed a neural network in 2012 with the help of Ilya Sutskever and Alex Krishevsky, two of his students, that could examine hundreds of photographs and educate itself to recognize common things.

Dr. Hinton and his two students founded a startup that was acquired by Google for $44 million. Using their technology, new chatbots like ChatGPT and Google Bard were developed. Later, Mr. Sutskever rose to the position of OpenAI’s chief scientist. Often referred to as “the Nobel Prize of computing,” the Turing Award was given to Dr. Hinton and two other longtime collaborators in 2018.

The Turing Award, also known as “the Nobel Prize of computing,” was given to Dr. Hinton and two additional lifelong partners in 2018 for their work on neural networks.

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