Linkposting, tagging and excerpting in accord with 'Should pretty much all content that's EA-relevant and/or created by EAs be (link)posted to the Forum?'.
He [Demis Hassibis] and his colleagues have been working toward a much grander ambition: creating artificial general intelligence, or AGI, by building machines that can think, learn, and be set to solve humanity’s toughest problems. Today’s AI is narrow, brittle, and often not very intelligent at all. But AGI, Hassabis believes, will be an “epoch-defining” technology—like the harnessing of electricity—that will change the very fabric of human life. If he’s right, it could earn him a place in history that would relegate the namesakes of his meeting rooms to mere footnotes.
But with AI’s promise also comes peril. In recent months, researchers building an AI system to design new drugs revealed that their tool could be easily repurposed to make deadly new chemicals. A separate AI model trained to spew out toxic hate speech went viral, exemplifying the risk to vulnerable communities online. And inside AI labs around the world, policy experts were grappling with near-term questions like what to do when an AI has the potential to be commandeered by rogue states to mount widespread hacking campaigns or infer state-level nuclear secrets. In December 2022, ChatGPT, a chatbot designed by DeepMind’s rival OpenAI, went viral for its seeming ability to write almost like a human—but faced criticism for its susceptibility to racism and misinformation.
It is in this uncertain climate that Hassabis agrees to a rare interview, to issue a stark warning about his growing concerns. “I would advocate not moving fast and breaking things,” he says, referring to an old Facebook motto that encouraged engineers to release their technologies into the world first and fix any problems that arose later. The phrase has since become synonymous with disruption. That culture, subsequently emulated by a generation of startups, helped Facebook rocket to 3 billion users. But it also left the company entirely unprepared when disinformation, hate speech, and even incitement to genocide began appearing on its platform. Hassabis sees a similarly worrying trend developing with AI. He says AI is now “on the cusp” of being able to make tools that could be deeply damaging to human civilization, and urges his competitors to proceed with more caution than before. “When it comes to very powerful technologies—and obviously AI is going to be one of the most powerful ever—we need to be careful,” he says. “Not everybody is thinking about those things. It’s like experimentalists, many of whom don’t realize they’re holding dangerous material.” Worse still, Hassabis points out, we are the guinea pigs.