Prominent Scientists Sign Letter of Warning About AI Risks

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Stephen Hawking, Elon Musk, and many other prominent figures have signed an open letter pushing for responsible AI oversight in order to mitigate risks and ensure the "societal benefit" of the technology.

The open letter was put together by the Future of Life Institute, a group mobilized by Skype co-founder Jaan Tallinn, MIT's Max Tegmark, Harvard's Viktoriya Krakovna, Boston University's Meia Chita-Tegmark, and UC Santa Cruz professor Anthony Aguirre. Its scientific advisory board boasts such figures as Stephen Hawking, Elon Musk, Sir Martin Rees, George Church, and Nick Bostrom.

The signatories of the open letter are not calling for a ban on AI research and development. Rather, they're calling for responsible oversight to ensure that it works with humanity's best interests in mind. They write:

There is now a broad consensus that AI research is progressing steadily, and that its impact on society is likely to increase. The potential benefits are huge, since everything that civilization has to offer is a product of human intelligence; we cannot predict what we might achieve when this intelligence is magnified by the tools AI may provide, but the eradication of disease and poverty are not unfathomable. Because of the great potential of AI, it is important to research how to reap its benefits while avoiding potential pitfalls.


Consequently, the authors say we need to "focus research not only on making AI more capable, but also on maximizing the societal benefit of AI." They have compiled a research priorities document which gives many examples of research directions that could contribute to the realization of these goals.

"In summary," the authors write, "we believe that research on how to make AI systems robust and beneficial is both important and timely, and that there are concrete research directions that can be pursued today."


Since the open letter was posted a few days ago, hundreds of people (myself included) have put their names on the list. I took a screen grab to show some of the more prominent signatories:


You can add your name to the list here.