“We call on all AI labs to immediately pause for at least 6 months the training of AI systems more powerful than GPT-4. This pause should be public and verifiable, and include all key actors. If such a pause cannot be enacted quickly, governments should step in and institute a moratorium.”
As of Tuesday night, over 1100 people had signed the letter, including philosophers such as Seth Lazar (of the Machine Intelligence and Normative Theory Lab at ANU), James Maclaurin (Co-director Centre for AI and Public Policy at Otago University), and Huw Price (Cambridge, former Director of the Leverhulme Centre for the Future of Intelligence), scientists such as Yoshua Bengio (Director of the Mila – Quebec AI Institute at the University of Montreal), Victoria Krakovna (DeepMind, co-founder of Future of Life Institute), Stuart Russell (Director of the Center for Intelligent Systems at Berkeley), and Max Tegmark (MIT Center for Artificial Intelligence & Fundamental Interactions), and tech entrepreneurs such as Elon Musk (SpaceX, Tesla, Twitter), Jaan Tallinn (Co-Founder of Skype, Co-Founder of the Centre for the Study of Existential Risk at Cambridge), and Steve Wozniak (co-founder of Apple), and many others.
Pointing out some of the risks of AI, the letter decries the “out-of-control race to develop and deploy ever more powerful digital minds that no one—not even their creators—can understand, predict, or reliably control” and the lack of “planning and management” appropriate to the potentially highly disruptive technology.
Here’s the full text of the letter (references omitted):
AI systems with human-competitive intelligence can pose profound risks to society and humanity, as shown by extensive research and acknowledged by top AI labs. As stated in the widely-endorsed Asilomar AI Principles, Advanced AI could represent a profound change in the history of life on Earth, and should be planned for and managed with commensurate care and resources. Unfortunately, this level of planning and management is not happening, even though recent months have seen AI labs locked in an out-of-control race to develop and deploy ever more powerful digital minds that no one—not even their creators—can understand, predict, or reliably control.
Contemporary AI systems are now becoming human-competitive at general tasks, and we must ask ourselves: Should we let machines flood our information channels with propaganda and untruth? Should we automate away all the jobs, including the fulfilling ones? Should we develop nonhuman minds that might eventually outnumber, outsmart, obsolete and replace us? Should we risk loss of control of our civilization? Such decisions must not be delegated to unelected tech leaders. Powerful AI systems should be developed only once we are confident that their effects will be positive and their risks will be manageable. This confidence must be well justified and increase with the magnitude of a system’s potential effects. OpenAI’s recent statement regarding artificial general intelligence, states that “At some point, it may be important to get independent review before starting to train future systems, and for the most advanced efforts to agree to limit the rate of growth of compute used for creating new models.” We agree. That point is now.
Therefore, we call on all AI labs to immediately pause for at least 6 months the training of AI systems more powerful than GPT-4. This pause should be public and verifiable, and include all key actors. If such a pause cannot be enacted quickly, governments should step in and institute a moratorium.
AI labs and independent experts should use this pause to jointly develop and implement a set of shared safety protocols for advanced AI design and development that are rigorously audited and overseen by independent outside experts. These protocols should ensure that systems adhering to them are safe beyond a reasonable doubt. This does not mean a pause on AI development in general, merely a stepping back from the dangerous race to ever-larger unpredictable black-box models with emergent capabilities.
AI research and development should be refocused on making today’s powerful, state-of-the-art systems more accurate, safe, interpretable, transparent, robust, aligned, trustworthy, and loyal.
In parallel, AI developers must work with policymakers to dramatically accelerate development of robust AI governance systems. These should at a minimum include: new and capable regulatory authorities dedicated to AI; oversight and tracking of highly capable AI systems and large pools of computational capability; provenance and watermarking systems to help distinguish real from synthetic and to track model leaks; a robust auditing and certification ecosystem; liability for AI-caused harm; robust public funding for technical AI safety research; and well-resourced institutions for coping with the dramatic economic and political disruptions (especially to democracy) that AI will cause.
Humanity can enjoy a flourishing future with AI. Having succeeded in creating powerful AI systems, we can now enjoy an “AI summer” in which we reap the rewards, engineer these systems for the clear benefit of all, and give society a chance to adapt. Society has hit pause on other technologies with potentially catastrophic effects on society. We can do so here. Let’s enjoy a long AI summer, not rush unprepared into a fall.
The letter is here. It is published by the Future of Life Institute, which supports “the development of institutions and visions necessary to manage world-driving technologies and enable a positive future” and aims to “reduce large-scale harm, catastrophe, and existential risk resulting from accidental or intentional misuse of transformative technologies.”
Related: “Thinking About Life with AI“, “Philosophers on Next-Generation Large Language Models“, “GPT-4 and the Question of Intelligence“, “We’re Not Ready for the AI on the Horizon, But People Are Trying”