- Geoffrey Hinton, known as the "Godfather of Artificial Intelligence", has stepped down from his position at Google and plans to warn of the dangers of the technology he has long championed.
- Hinton told CNBC that he now believes digital intelligence "can elicit much more knowledge than a single biological agent."
- Google and Microsoft are among the major technology companies investing in the new paradigm of artificial intelligence.
Jeffrey Hinton, known as the "Father of Artificial Intelligence," is a Ph.D. He earned his PhD in artificial intelligence 45 years ago and remains one of the most respected voices in the field.
Over the last decade, Hinton has worked part-time at Google between the company's headquarters in Silicon Valley and Toronto. But he dismissed the Internet giant, telling the New York Times that it would alert the world to a potential threat to artificial intelligence, which he said was coming sooner than expected.
"I think it will be 30 to 50 or more," Hinton said in an article published Monday. "Obviously, I don't think so anymore."
Hinton, who received the 2018 Turing Award for conceptual and engineering breakthrough, says he now regrets his life's work, the Times reported. He points to the near-term risks associated with AI performance, including the spread of fake photos, videos and text that look real to most people.
"I think the digital intelligence that we're building now is very different from biological intelligence," Hinton told CNBC.
Hinton cites the strengths of GPT-4, the Largest Advanced Language Model, or LLM, an OpenAI startup whose technology has proliferated since the launch of the ChatGPT chatbot late last year. This is how he describes what is happening now.
"If I have 1,000 digital clients that are exact clones with the same weight, every time an agent learns to do something, they all know right away because the weight is the same," said Hinton. @CNBC. Biological agents cannot do this. Thus, groups of similar digital agents can gain more knowledge than a single biological agent. That's why GPT-4 knows more than anyone else themselves."
Hinton sounded the alarm before he even left Google. In an interview with CBS News that aired in March, Hinton was asked what he thought about "the possibility of artificial intelligence destroying humanity." He replied, "No wonder, that's all I'll say."
Google CEO Sundar Pichai has also publicly warned about the dangers associated with AI. Last month 60 Minutes said the public was not ready for what was to come. Meanwhile, Google showcased its own products, such as self-learning bots and Bard, its ChatGPT competitor.
Yet when asked whether the pace of change could outpace our ability to adapt, Picai downplayed the risks. "I don't think so. We are an infinitely adaptable species," he said.
Hinton has reduced his time at Google over the past year, according to internal documents seen by CNBC. As of March 2022, this will be 20% of full-time employment. That year, he was appointed to a new brain research group. His most recent role was Vice President and Researcher under Jeff Dean at Google Brain.
In an emailed statement to CNBC, Dean said he appreciated Hinton's "decades of contribution to Google."
"I will miss him and wish him all the best." Dean wrote, "As one of the first companies to publish AI principles, we remain committed to responsible AI. We continue to understand the risks that arise, and innovate boldly."
Hinton's departure is a big loss for Google Brain, the team behind much of the company's artificial intelligence work. A few years ago, Google reportedly spent $44 million to buy the company Hinton and two of his students founded in 2012.
His research team has made great strides in accelerating deep learning, speech recognition and object classification. Their technology will help shape new ways to use artificial intelligence, including ChatGPT and Bard.
Google has assembled teams across the company to integrate Bard's and LLM technologies into more products and services. Last month, the company announced it would integrate Brain with DeepMind to "significantly accelerate our advances in artificial intelligence."
According to the Times, Hinton said he quit his job at Google to speak freely about the dangers associated with artificial intelligence. he told the newspapers. "I console myself with the usual excuse that if I don't do it, someone else will."
Hinton tweeted on Monday: “I let people talk about the dangers of artificial intelligence without thinking about how it will affect Google. Google is acting very responsibly."