It’s the end of the world as we know it. Or is it?

AI does not need to attain sentience, or anything close to it, to upend the lives of hundreds of millions of people.

12 May 2023

Believe it or not, computer scientists are as fond of grand dramatic gestures as their more expressive peers in the humanities. By way of example, see the open letter calling for a pause on the development of AI systems ‘more powerful than ChatGPT’, signed by the who's who of artificial intelligence ethics, as well as Elon Musk, Steve Wozniak (co-founder of Apple) and bestselling science writer Yuval Noah Harari.

So what's all the fuss about? So far, ChatGPT is a fun, somewhat useful tool with a lot of possibilities, but not much real-world impact. Half of its users are more intent on tricking it into swearing or giving up bomb recipes than using it for anything significant. The signatories on the letter contend that ‘AI systems with human-competitive intelligence can pose profound risks to society and humanity’. (I told you they were fond of drama.)

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