Over 1,000 tech leaders have written an open letter calling for a pause on all major artificial intelligence (AI) development and training until developers can better understand how these technologies function.
The letter has garnered over 1,377 signatures from notable figures, including Elon Musk and Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak.
Other signatories include Turing Prize winner Yoshua Bengio, professor of computer science Stuart Russell, Stability AI CEO Emad Mostaque, Getty Images CEO Craig Peters, and several other tech executives and major scientists.
Signatories also include some surprising names, such as AI experts and engineers from Meta and Google, two major tech companies actively involved in the AI race.
Why signatories want AI developments halted
In their view, extensive research and top AI labs have recognized that AI poses a risk to humanity and society. Therefore, it should be adequately planned and managed.
However, the letter noted that “this level of planning and management is not happening.” Instead, several AI labs have been involved in a race to develop powerful digital minds without complete understanding or control.
The letter also raised several questions about the ethical implications of artificial intelligence that critics have been asking.
“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?”
It said that powerful AI tools should only be developed when their risks are manageable and their effects positive.
While the signatories are not calling for a total ban on AI development and experiments, they want at least a 6-month pause on training any AI tool more powerful than GPT-4. The letter added that the government should impose a moratorium if the AI labs would not enact the pause voluntarily.
Meanwhile, signatories recommended that the 6-month moratorium be spent developing safety standards and protocols for AI development. The letter also called for collaboration with policymakers to establish AI governance systems.
Previous calls for AI safety standards
Elon Musk’s appearance on the list is not totally surprising given how vocal he has been about AI safety. Musk has also been outspoken in his criticism of OpenAI, a company he was involved in founding.
This letter is not the first time tech leaders and scientists have called for caution on the development of AI. Musk, Steve Wozniak, and Stephen Hawking wrote a letter in 2015 against using AI for military purposes.
If you’re against a military AI arms race, please sign this open letter:http://t.co/yyF9rcm9jz
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) July 28, 2015
Community questions letter
Several AI experts have questioned the significance of the open letter.
Researcher Dr. Eli David implied that it was targeted at OpenAI. According to David, the signatories want “OpenAI to stop further developments for six months so their competitors have time to catch up.”
More than a thousand experts signed a letter calling on “all AI labs to pause for 6 months the training of AI systems more powerful than GPT4”
Or in plain English:
“We call on OpenAI to stop further developments for six months so their competitors have time to catch up.” 🤡 pic.twitter.com/XDVafvCwDn
— Dr. Eli David (@DrEliDavid) March 30, 2023
OpenAI is the developer of the fast-rising AI chatbot ChatGPT, which attracted over 100 million users less than two months after its launch. The developer’s recent GPT-4 has enjoyed wide praise from the industry for its impact.
Meanwhile, OpenAI CEO Sam Altman said the company has not started training GPT-5. He told Wall Street Journal that the company prioritizes safety in its development.