What just happened? It's understandable why many people are concerned about artificial intelligence becoming a threat to humanity; Hollywood has pumped out plenty of movies about rogue AIs over the years. But when a warning that the world is close to "potentially scary" AI comes from Sam Altman, the CEO of ChatGPT creator OpenAI, maybe it's time to listen.
Altman, co-founder and CEO of OpenAI and the former president of Y Combinator, posted several tweets about generative AI over the weekend. He wrote that the benefits of integrating AI tools into society mean the world will likely adapt to the technology very quickly. He believes they will help us become more productive, healthier, smarter, and entertained.
Altman says this sort of transition is "mostly good" and can happen fast, comparing it to the way the world moved from the pre-smartphone to the post-smartphone era, but it will be tempting to make the move "super quickly," which he says is a frightening prospect as society needs time to adapt.
There was also a warning about the need for industry regulation. "We also need enough time for our institutions to figure out what to do. regulation will be critical and will take time to figure out; although current-generation AI tools aren't very scary, i think we are potentially not that far away from potentially scary ones," Altman tweeted.
we also need enough time for our institutions to figure out what to do. regulation will be critical and will take time to figure out; although current-generation AI tools aren't very scary, i think we are potentially not that far away from potentially scary ones.--- Sam Altman (@sama) February 19, 2023
The tweets highlighted some of the problems with generative AIs, such as Microsoft's GPT-powered Bing Chat calling users liars and being overly aggressive or rude to them. Microsoft responded to this by limiting users to 50 chat turns - a conversation exchange which contains both a user question and a reply - per day and 5 chat turns per session Altman said there would be challenges like these, which he said can leave people feeling unsettled. He also wants to ensure there are no biased results from chatbots.
Those disturbing conversations come from AIs being limited by what they're trained on and unable to "think" for themselves. It's what allowed an amateur Go player to beat a top artificial intelligence recently using a technique that humans would easily be able to identify.
Generative AI isn't the only type of artificial intelligence where regulation is becoming a priority. AI's use in warfare is under the spotlight right now and has led to more than 60 nations agreeing to put the responsible use of artificial intelligence higher on the political agenda.