Google AI pioneer says he quit to speak freely about technology’s ‘dangers’

A pioneer of artificial intelligence said he quit Google to speak freely about the technology’s dangers, after realising that computers could become smarter than people far sooner than he and other experts had expected.

“I left so that I could talk about the dangers of AI without considering how this impacts Google,” Geoffrey Hinton wrote on Twitter.

In an interview with the New York Times, Hinton said he was worried about AI’s capacity to create convincing false images and texts, creating a world where people will “not be able to know what is true anymore”.

“It is hard to see how you can prevent the bad actors from using it for bad things,” he said.

The technology could quickly displace workers, and become a greater danger as it learns new behaviours.

“The idea that this stuff could actually get smarter than people — a few people believed that,” he told the New York Times. “But most people thought it was way off. And I thought it was way off. I thought it was 30 to 50 years or even longer away. Obviously, I no longer think that.”

In his tweet, Hinton said Google itself had “acted very responsibly” and denied that he had quit so that he could criticise his former employer.

Google, part of Alphabet (NASDAQ:GOOGL) Inc., did not immediately reply to a request for comment from Reuters. The Times quoted Google’s chief scientist, Jeff Dean, as saying in a statement: “We remain committed to a responsible approach to A.I. We’re continually learning to understand emerging risks while also innovating boldly.”

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