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AI ‘Godfather’ Professor Yoshua Bengio Expresses Concerns over Technology’s Rapid Evolution

Following Geoffrey Hinton’s recent warning about the potential dangers of artificial intelligence (AI), another prominent figure in the field, Professor Yoshua Bengio, has expressed his concerns regarding the pace at which technology is advancing.

In an interview with the BBC, Bengio, known as one of the ‘godfathers’ of machine learning, revealed that he feels “lost” in regard to his life’s work. As a Canadian computer scientist and professor at the University of Montreal, Bengio is renowned for his groundbreaking contributions to AI, particularly in the area of deep learning.

While acknowledging the emotional challenges faced by those deeply involved in AI, Bengio emphasized the importance of persevering and engaging in discussions to foster collective thinking.

Notably, Geoffrey Hinton, another prominent AI figure, recently resigned from his position at Google to freely address the risks associated with AI.

Bengio’s remarks come on the heels of a statement released by the Center of AI Safety (CAIS), a research nonprofit, cautioning about the potential existential threats posed by artificial intelligence. The statement, signed by Bengio, Hinton, Sam Altman (CEO of OpenAI), Demis Hassabis (CEO of Google DeepMind), and other notable AI scientists and figures, emphasizes the need to prioritize mitigating the risks of AI-induced extinction alongside other global-scale concerns such as pandemics and nuclear warfare.

According to CAIS, as AI continues to advance, it could potentially contribute to catastrophic risks. The organization’s blog highlights various ways in which AI systems could pose significant dangers, including the potential use of AI as a political weapon. OpenAI’s CEO echoed this sentiment during a recent appearance before a Senate committee, expressing concerns about AI’s interference with election integrity.

The collective voices of influential figures like Bengio and Hinton, along with organizations like CAIS, underscore the imperative of addressing the risks associated with AI as it progresses further into the future.

Calls for regulation

Professor Bengio further told the BBC that all AI companies must be registered. “Governments need to track what they’re doing, they need to be able to audit them, and that’s just the minimum thing we do for any other sector like building airplanes or cars or pharmaceuticals.”

“We also need the people close to these systems to have a kind of certification… we need ethical training here. Computer scientists don’t usually get that, by the way,” he added.

Countries across the globe are grappling to regulate AI, as its full potential remains unknown. U.S President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris had a meeting with tech industries’ bigwigs like Altman, Anthropic CEO Dario Amodei, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, and Google CEO Sundar Pichai earlier this month to address the risks associated with AI and the responsibility that their respective companies need to take to ensure safety and privacy.