A ‘godfather of AI’ says he’s worried about AI eventually manipulating humans

  • George Hinton voiced some alarming concerns about AI in a “60 Minutes” interview.
  • The AI “godfather” says the tech is learning better than humans — and has the potential to do bad.
  • Hinton told Insider that humans should be “very concerned.”

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A pioneer in artificial intelligence says the technology’s potential worries him.

Geoffrey Hinton, known as a godfather of AI, appeared on “60 Minutes” to discuss the risks it could pose to humanity as tech giants race to develop their own AI assistants and chatbots. Although Hinton won the prestigious Turing Award for his advancements in the field, he said he believes AI could one day have the power to outsmart and manipulate people.

“I think we’re moving into a period when, for the first time ever, we may have things more intelligent than us,” Hinton said during his “60 Minutes” interview.

In a follow-up message to Insider, Hinton said humans should be “very concerned” about the progress AI is making.

Generative AI has been the subject of widespread speculation and criticism — and praise — since OpenAI released ChatGPT in November 2022. And AI-generated images and videos of public figures have already tricked some people into the fake images are authentic.

All that AI is missing now, Hinton said, is the self-awareness to know how to use its intelligence to manipulate humans. As for taking over the planet, Hinton said on the TV program: “It’s a possibility.”

“They will be able to manipulate people, right?” Hinton said. “And these will be very good at convincing people ’cause they’ll have learned from all the novels that were ever written — all the books by Machiavelli, all the political connivances, they’ll know all that stuff. They’ll know how to do it.”

He told Insider that it could be between five and 20 years before AI is a real threat. And he acknowledged that it could take a lot longer for AI to threaten humanity — and said “it is still possible that the threat will not materialize.”

Meanwhile, there’s the concern of using AI to replace people in jobs, generate fake news, and unintended bias going undetected.

Hinton on “60 Minutes” compared the way AI works to the neural network of the human brain. AI systems are already better at learning than the human mind despite the biggest chatbots having a trillion connections in its network compared to the 100 trillion connections in the human brain, he contended.

The 75-year-old retired from Google earlier this year after 10 years with the company. He recently expressed regret for his role in advancing AI, but said on “60 Minutes” he had no regrets for the good it can do.

“I console myself with the normal excuse: ‘If I hadn’t done it, somebody else would have.’ It is hard to see how you can prevent the bad actors from using it for bad things,” Hinton said previously.

The future of AI is unclear and a path that guarantees safety is still undiscovered by the leaders in the field. Whether humans learn to master AI or become subservient to it, one of the tech’s godfathers has said we’re all witnessing a turning point in world history

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Jordan Hart