Former Google CEO Calls AI An ‘Existential Risk,’ Could Get ‘Many People Harmed Or Killed’

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Artificial intelligence (AI) could present grave dangers to the world and governments must know how to prevent it from being exploited by bad actors, former Google CEO Eric Schmidt cautioned on Wednesday.

Speaking at The Wall Street Journal’s CEO Council Summit in London on Wednesday, Schmidt said he is worried that AI presents an “existential risk” and that “many, many, many, many people” could be harmed or killed by the technology. He discussed the potential of the technology being “misused by evil people,” and said AI regulation is a “broader question for society,” to address; he added that it is not probable that the government will establish a new regulatory agency for that purpose. (RELATED: Lawmakers, Tech Firms Called For Regulation Of Artificial Intelligence. Here’s Why It’s Not So Easy)

WASHINGTON, DC – MAY 16: Samuel Altman, CEO of OpenAI, testifies before the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Privacy, Technology, and the Law May 16, 2023 in Washington, DC. The committee held an oversight hearing to examine A.I., focusing on rules for artificial intelligence. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

OpenAI CEO Sam Altman testified at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in May, calling for AI regulation through implementing licensing and testing requirements, and called for the creation of a new agency to regulate AI. Many lawmakers seemed open to his ideas, but passing legislation poses legal, political and practical problems, experts told the Daily Caller News Foundation.

“Powerful AI systems should be developed only once we are confident that their effects will be positive and their risks will be manageable,” technologists including AI researchers, Elon Musk and Steve Wozniak wrote in an open letter in March calling for a six-month moratorium on massive AI experiments, raising concerns such as job automation and propaganda. Musk also said, “it has the potential of civilization destruction,” in an interview with Tucker Carlson in April.

Altman also warned about “existential risk” relating to AI “superintelligence” in a blog post on Monday.

“It’s conceivable that within the next ten years, AI systems will exceed expert skill level in most domains, and carry out as much productive activity as one of today’s largest corporations,” Altman wrote. “In terms of both potential upsides and downsides, superintelligence will be more powerful than other technologies humanity has had to contend with in the past. We can have a dramatically more prosperous future; but we have to manage risk to get there. Given the possibility of existential risk, we can’t just be reactive.”

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