Eric Schmidt’s Take on the Dangers of AI and What We Need to Do

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With the arrival of artificial intelligence, many people have the opportunity to utilize the power of these new systems in an early stage. Undoubtedly this new technology is revolutionary and has proven beneficial in many sectors; however, former Google chairman and CEO Eric Schmidt warn about the dangers of AI and the impacts it may have on society.

ChatGPT has been one of the hottest topics lately, as the 6-month-old chatbot gets nearly 25 million daily traffic. Companies and people from all over the world are reaping the benefits of the model; however, with great power comes great risk, and so are concerns starting to rise.

In a recent interview, Eric Schmidt, former CEO and technology executive at Google, expressed his concerns about the uncertainty around the technology: “We did not understand how powerful ChatGPT would be in the annals of human history, that people could converse with it.”

What are the three primary risks associated with AI, according to Eric Schmidt?

Eric Schmidt is a well-known figure in the technology industry, and his work and research on AI have shaped the industry and made significant breakthroughs in deep learning. In the book “The Age of AI and Our Human Future,” in which Schmidt is a co-author, the writers argue about the potential of AI to transform the global order and that it is vital to consider the ethical, social, and political implications of this transformation.

In a recent interview at the Global Conference of Milken Institute in 2023, the tech expert outlined his three main concerns regarding artificial intelligence:

  • False Information:

“The first one (concern), I think, is misinformation at scale. These technologies will allow an evil country or competitor to come in and screw up our democracy. You believe that leaders are saying what they are saying, and you honestly believe when you see them and listen to them, that is what they’ve said.”

  • AI as a biological weapon:

“Another example would be in biology; it would be relatively easy to synthesize pathogens that are bad.”

  • Cyberattacks:

“Another one would be cyberattacks; it would be relatively easy to unleash these things; they attack a whole country…”

Schmidt believes that specific safety measures or “guardrails,” which are currently being developed, must be implemented to prevent these threats. 

Another major tech expert and former Google researcher, Geoffrey Hinton, warns about the dangers of AI

Schmidt is not the only former Google executive who expresses his worries concerning the rapid advancement of AI. Dr. Geoffrey Hinton, a world-renowned computer scientist working as a researcher at Google Brain, has announced his resignation from the company.

In an interview with BBC, the honorable professor warned about the dangers of emerging technology: “It’s one of those things where there is no way that people weren’t going to explore it. The issue is now that we’ve discovered it works better than we expected a few years ago, what do we do to mitigate the long term risks of things more intelligent than us taking control?”

Like Google’s former CEO, Hinton believes that “bad actors” are concerns that need to be addressed: “It’ll allow authoritarian leaders to manipulate their electorates…”

Furthermore, the professor believes that the biggest problem is that we do not have a plan on how to deal with AI once it gets more advanced: “There is another thing I wanted to talk about, which is the existential risk of what happens when these things get more intelligent than us.” He believes the robots’ intelligence systems are different from our biological ones and thus may raise ethical concerns and control speculations.

The need for change in the AI industry is prominent

There is no doubt that the AI sector attracts some serious attention. Regulations are also underway, as the UK has announced that they are closely examining the market and the technology behind AI. The government will mainly review software like ChatGPT to distinguish the effects they may have on job loss and market domination.

AI has been expanding rapidly, which has led another executive of a leading tech giant, Elon Musk, to call for a pause on AI development for at least six months. Although Eric Schmidt is “Not in favor of a six-month pause because it will simply benefit China,” he believes that the common goal should be to reduce the harm and increase the benefits of AI.

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