Concerns over “woke” artificial intelligence (AI) have come to a head after months of pushback as Tesla CEO Elon Musk and thousands more called for an “AI summer” to avoid a “potentially catastrophic” fall.
Chatbot software such as OpenAI’s ChatGPT (generative pre-trained transformer) and Google’s Bard have routinely proven to hold the biases of their programmers since their respective rollouts. As recently as this week, a series of trials found Bard to promote leftist ideologies while taking a negative position toward conservative figures and viewpoints.
Due to growing concerns, Musk, who has been actively engaged in reforms to social media platform Twitter to tamp down on the influence of bots and foster genuine and factual communication since his acquisition, joined with other industry leaders in calling for a six-month pause on the development of next-generation AI systems.
The letter, issued by the Future of Life Institute with notable signatories that included Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak and the founder and scientific director of the Montreal Institute for Learning Algorithms (Mila) Yoshua Bengio, stated, “AI systems with human-competitive intelligence can pose profound risks to society and humanity, as shown by extensive research and acknowledged by top AI labs.”
“Contemporary AI systems are now becoming human-competitive at general tasks, and we must ask ourselves: Should we let machines flood our information channels with propaganda and untruth?” the letter posited. “Should we automate away all the jobs, including the fulfilling ones? Should we develop nonhuman minds that might eventually outnumber, outsmart, obsolete and replace us? Should we risk loss of control of our civilization?”
“This pause should be public and verifiable, and include all key actors. If such a pause cannot be enacted quickly, governments should step in and institute a moratorium,” the letter contended.
Musk himself had been a co-founder of OpenAI in 2015, but in February found himself decrying what had become of the company he left in 2018 with a tweet that read, “OpenAI was created as an open source (which is why I named it ‘Open’ AI), non-profit company to serve as a counterweight to Google, but now it has become a closed source, maximum-profit company effectively controlled by Microsoft. Not what I intended at all.”
OpenAI was created as an open source (which is why I named it “Open” AI), non-profit company to serve as a counterweight to Google, but now it has become a closed source, maximum-profit company effectively controlled by Microsoft.
Not what I intended at all.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) February 17, 2023
He had also taken part in some public disagreements with OpenAI CEO Sam Altman who had challenged the idea of the software’s bias by blaming user input, “‘AI needs to do whatever I ask’ and ‘I asked the AI to be sexist and it was, look how awful!’ are incompatible positions. somewhat surprised by the number of people who hold both.”
To that, Musk replied, “The danger of training AI to be woke — in other words, lie — is deadly.”
“AI needs to do whatever i ask” and “i asked the AI to be sexist and it was, look how awful!” are incompatible positions.
somewhat surprised by the number of people who hold both.
— Sam Altman (@sama) December 16, 2022
The danger of training AI to be woke – in other words, lie – is deadly
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) December 16, 2022
The Twitter CEO has repeatedly indicated his concern for the leftist bias displayed by AI that even labeled him as a “controversial” figure while the likes of President Joe Biden and Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos were not.
“Elon has been on the front line of the Twitter files, so he’s seen how bad the censorship can be. This is just so evident to everyone in this space…that [AI tech] is exceeding the pace of our ability to control it,” Heritage Foundation’s Tech Policy Center research associate Jake Denton told Fox News.
“The consumer-known issue is the ChatGPT bias. It’s obviously on a path to replace search. The average person will soon go to a chat-based AI system rather than a search bar,” he continued and added, “And that means the response, the information that they get when they enter a search query, is going to be…a curated thing with the restrictions of the AI company reflected in that answer. That’s a major danger.”
To that end, the now more than 50,000 signatories sought a hold on further development to more fully adapt to the progress made thus far.
“Society,” they concluded, “has hit pause on other technologies with potentially catastrophic effects on society. We can do so here. Let’s enjoy a long AI summer, not rush unprepared into a fall.”
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