Geoffrey Hinton tells us why he’s now scared of the tech he helped build

Will Douglas Heaven in the MIT Technology Review:

Does Hinton really think he can get enough people in power to share his concerns? He doesn’t know. A few weeks ago, he watched the movie Don’t Look Up, in which an asteroid zips toward Earth, nobody can agree what to do about it, and everyone dies—an allegory for how the world is failing to address climate change.

“I think it’s like that with AI,” he says, and with other big intractable problems as well. “The US can’t even agree to keep assault rifles out of the hands of teenage boys,” he says.

Hinton’s argument is sobering. I share his bleak assessment of people’s collective inability to act when faced with serious threats. It is also true that AI risks causing real harm—upending the job market, entrenching inequality, worsening sexism and racism, and more. We need to focus on those problems. But I still can’t make the jump from large language models to robot overlords. Perhaps I’m an optimist.

When Hinton saw me out, the spring day had turned gray and wet. “Enjoy yourself, because you may not have long left,” he said. He chuckled and shut the door.

More here.