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'Godfather of AI' exits Google, concerned about multiple ethical problems

Hinton has both short- and long-term concerns with unregulated, uncontrolled AI.
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Published onMay 1, 2023

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Rita El Khoury / Android Authority
TL;DR
  • Google’s VP and engineering fellow, Geoffrey Hinton, resigned from the company in April.
  • Hinton left the firm to warn of the risks associated with AI.
  • Hinton worries unregulated AI could lead to waves of misinformation, lost jobs, and problems with fully automated weapons.

It’s no secret that Google has been ramping up AI development to put out products that can compete with the likes of ChatGPT, Bing, and other AI models. But the way Google is going about this pursuit has led to a very high-profile exit from the company.

Google’s VP and engineering fellow, Geoffrey Hinton, told the New York Times that he resigned from Google in April. Nicknamed the “godfather of AI,” Hinton’s departure is a big blow for the tech giant being one of the most prominent figures in the industry.

Why did Hinton leave his job at Google? It appears Hinton’s decision was based on the dangers associated with uncontrolled, unregulated AI. Hinton was reportedly worried about how Google gave up its previous restraint on public AI releases in a bid to prevent other AI competitors from surpassing it. He believes this could open the door to a variety of ethical problems.

One such problem Hinton worries about is the potential for generative AI to flood the public with indistinguishable misinformation. The viral image of Pope Francis wearing a puffer jacket comes to mind as a recent example. Another immediate consequence Hinton is concerned about is the possibility of AI replacing jobs. This is currently a big concern among voice actors, artists, writers, and more at the moment.

The long-term consequences of uncontrolled and unregulated AI are a little bit more frightening to think about. Hinton mentions the possibility of fully automated weapons and the odd behavior AI tends to learn from training data.

Hinton is far from the only major figure to voice their concerns about AI’s current trajectory. Over 1,100 industry heavyweights signed an open letter requesting for a six-month pause on AI development to address a number of problems. This list included the likes of Yoshua Bengio, Steve Wozniak, and even Elon Musk. Both Sundar Pichai and Satya Nadella, the CEOs of Google and Microsoft, names were notably absent from the letter.