Geoffrey Hinton, the man who has been dubbed the “Godfather of A.I.,” has quit Google. Hinton worked for more than a decade at Google developing new A.I. tech, but now he is joining the growing chorus of people who are concerned that artificial intelligence may have already gone too far. Now he plans on leading a campaign to warn people of the dangers posed by artificial intelligence.
This is the type of move that could someday be seen as marking a turning point in history. But will Geoffrey Hinton’s actions actually do anything stop or even slow down the march to an A.I. world.
We have all seen the movies. “The Terminator,” “The Matrix” and many more portrayed dark, dystopian images of a future Earth in which artificial intelligence destroyed the world and humanity. These kinds of films are so popular because people have concerns that someday computers will get to be so smart that they will become sentient beings in their own right, outwit their creators, rebel and become the masters.
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Geoffrey Hinton explained his decision in an interview with the New York Times.
But he does not seem to regret having spent so much time promoting A.I. himself. “I console myself with the normal excuse: If I hadn’t done it, somebody else would have,” he told the Times. But some people might respond to this with that old adage, “famous last words.”
His own company was bought out by Google for $44 million so the corporate giant could develop its own A.I. tech. Geoffrey Hinton is credited with the recent development of ChatGPT.
And think about all of the controversy that stirred. Schools on all levels all over the world are now concerned about students using software to write their papers and do their homework for them. Writers – all kinds of writers from the world of entertainment to journalists – are now worried that they could all be out of a job because A.I. can now write realistic stories.
And now we also have fake computer generated images that look so realistic we won’t even need actors anymore. Heck, long dead movie stars like Clark Gable and Kathryn Hepburn could soon return to the silver screen as A.I. generated images.
Geoffrey Hinton is so concerned about all of this that he told the New York Times, “Maybe what is going on in these systems,” he said, “is actually a lot better than what is going on in the brain.”
“Look at how it was five years ago and how it is now,” he added. “Take the difference and propagate it forwards. That’s scary.”
According to his official bio, Geoffrey Hinton received his BA in Experimental Psychology from Cambridge in 1970 and his PhD in Artificial Intelligence from Edinburgh in 1978. He did postdoctoral work at Sussex University and the University of California San Diego and spent five years as a faculty member in the Computer Science department at Carnegie-Mellon University. He then became a fellow of the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research and moved to the Department of Computer Science at the University of Toronto. He spent three years from 1998 until 2001 setting up the Gatsby Computational Neuroscience Unit at University College London and then returned to the University of Toronto where he is now an emeritus distinguished professor.
From 2004 until 2013 Geoffrey Hinton was the director of the program on “Neural Computation and Adaptive Perception” which is funded by the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research. Since 2013 he has been working half-time for Google in Mountain View and Toronto.