The speed at which tools based on generative artificial intelligence (AI) are being deployed, which is capable of creating text, images or music from a series of instructions, is scaring experts. More than a thousand top-level businessmen, intellectuals, and researchers related to this technology have signed an open letter in which they request a moratorium on its development to reflect on its consequences.
More specifically, they ask for a pause of “at least six months in the development and testing of AI systems more powerful than GPT4”, the latest version of the great language model used by ChatGPT. The letter warns that this latest model is already capable of competing with humans in an increasing number of tasks, and could be used to destroy jobs and spread disinformation. For this reason, they demand a safe development and only when they are sure that its effects will be positive. “Unfortunately”, secure the letter“this level of planning and management is not happening, despite the fact that in recent months AI labs have entered an uncontrollable race to develop and deploy increasingly powerful digital minds that no one, not even their creators, can reliably understand, predict or control”.
The magnate Elon Musk, founder of Tesla and SpaceX and owner of Twitter, is among the personalities who have signed the letter. Curiously, Musk is one of the founders of OpenAI, the company that has developed ChatGPT, which was the first to decide to make its great automatic language model available to the general public, something that no one had done until then, despite the fact that Google o Meta had had its own developments underway for years.
The historian Yuval Noah Harari, famous for his books sapiens and Homo Deus, or Yoshua Bengio, whose contribution to deep neural networks earned him the Turing Prize (considered the Nobel Prize in Computer Science), are other of the best-known signatories. Among them also stand out Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple, or Jaan Tallinn, co-founder of Skype.
The Spanish seal of the letter is put by internationally renowned experts such as Ramon López de Mántaras, one of the pioneers of AI in Europe; Carles Serra, director of the CSIC’s AI Institute, and Francesc Giralt, emeritus professor at the Rovira i Virgili University. The first of them signs another open letter published yesterday in EL PAÍS in which he complains about the Government’s decision to close a collaboration agreement with an AI institute financed by the United Arab Emirates. Serra resigned last week from his position on the AI Advisory Council in protest of that agreement.
Development, but with responsibility
“Advanced AI can represent a profound change in the history of life on Earth and should be carefully and resourcefully planned and managed,” reads a principle agreed in 2017 by key figures in the discipline at an international conference. “Unfortunately, this level of planning and management is not taking place,” the letter laments.
“A recent OpenAI release related to General AI says that ‘At some point, it would be important to have independent supervision before training new systems and for more advanced efforts to agree to limit the growth rate of computational power used to create new models.’ We agree. That moment is now”, expresses the letter in what seems like a hint to OpenAI despite being signed by one of its founders, Elon Musk.
The starting signal for the new race for generative AI was given by OpenAI, a company owned, among others, by the richest man in the world and by Microsoft. The launch last fall of the beta version of ChatGPT, its famous chatbot, put into the hands of the general public a technology that companies like Google or Meta had been working on for decades.
Microsoft knew how to catch the trend and announced an investment of 10,000 million dollars in the company. Soon after, he revealed that his Bing search engine and Office applications would carry a chatbot similar to ChatGPT. Google did not want to be less and presented Bard, its own version of a conversational chatbot. Meta also has his own: LlaMa. Meanwhile, OpenAI introduced ChatGPT4, a much more powerful and polished new version of its chatbot, and is already working on ChatGPT5.
All this has happened in less than five months. Alarmed by the speed of this race, the signatories of the letter request a half-year pause to think about how it should be channeled. “If this pause cannot materialize soon, governments should intervene and impose a moratorium,” the experts request.
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