Elon Musk is wrong to call for a global pause in the development of AI, which would play into the hands of rogue regimes, a new report has warned.
The SpaceX, Tesla, and Twitter owner was one of 1,000 people to put his name to a letter saying humanity faced “profound risks” due to the rate of advancement in the field, spearheaded by systems like OpenAI’s ChatGPT.
The open letter by the Future of Life Institute said development should be paused worldwide for six months, as governments grapple with how the technology could or should be regulated.
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But in a report published on Thursday, BCS, the Chartered Institute for IT, has said this would only result in an “asymmetrical pause” as bad actors would ignore it and seize the advantage.
Humanity would benefit more from “ethical guardrails” around AI rather than any halt in development, BCS added.
The institute represents those working in IT and computer science in the UK and abroad, with more than 70,000 members including academics and industry figures.
Chief executive Rashik Parmar said: “We can’t be certain every country and company with the power to develop AI would obey a pause, when the rewards for breaking an embargo are so rich.”
Mr Parmar said the tech needed to be helped “grow up responsibly”, such as by making it part of public education campaigns and ensuring it is clearly labelled whenever it is used.
The BCS report, titled Helping AI Grow Up – Without Pressing Pause”, backed the UK government’s “light touch” proposal on how the technology should be regulated.
A white paper, published in March, suggested AI is tested within a regulatory “sandbox” before being let loose, but Michelle Donelan, the science and technology secretary, said attempts to impose more stringent regulations would quickly go out of date.
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The success of ChatGPT and image generation tools like Midjourney has supercharged an AI arms race between established tech giants Microsoft and Google, with the former backing OpenAI’s software and its long-time rival developing its own Bard chatbot.
While they have instilled awe with their ability to pass exams, write speeches, and solve equations, sceptics have warned they could be used to spread misinformation and aid criminal activity.
Italy temporarily banned ChatGPT over user privacy concerns, while the US and China are among the countries exploring ways to regulate AI as it becomes increasingly powerful and accessible.
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The BCS report, which argues the “generational” technology could be transformative for medical diagnosis, climate science and productivity, comes after a leading expert known as the “Godfather of AI” warned of its potential.
British computer scientist Geoffrey Hinton left his job at Google to speak openly about his concerns, including the possibility that AI could one day outsmart humans and make many jobs redundant.