AI poses a ‘risk of extinction’, warn European tech greats

Some of Europe’s top technologists today joined a global group of IT stars to warn that AI could lead to extinction.

With only 22 words long, their statement is short and sweet:

“Reducing the risk of AI extinction should be a global priority, alongside other societal-scale risks such as pandemics and nuclear war.”

Published by the non-profit Center for AI Safety, the message is signed by a range of business leaders, researchers and public figures. They include Sam Altman, the CEO of OpenAI, Kevin Scott, the CTO of Microsoft, and, er, the musician Grimes. However, her ex-boyfriend, Elon Musk, was a notable absentee, despite his long record of voicing concerns about the field.

A significant proportion of the signatories come from Europe. Among them are Demis Hassabis, the London-born CEO of Google DeepMind, Kersti Kaljulaid, the former president of Estonia, and Geoffrey Hinton, a British Turing Award winner who recently left Google to talk about the dangers of AI.

The statement joins a slew of recent alarm bells about AI’s existential threats.

In the past two months alone, market leaders have done just that called for the training of powerful AI systems to be suspended for fear of threats to humanity; professional health care providers have demanded a pause in developing artificial general intelligence; Musk has warned AI could cause “civilization destruction”, and Google boss Sundar Pichai has admitted that the dangers “keep [him] up at night.”

However, cynics may note that many of the chiming figures also oppose AI regulations that could negatively impact their businesses.