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AI: Opportunity or Threat?

Tech figures are pushing for a pause on advanced AI systems amid fears of a threat to humanity.

Tesla chief Elon Musk has warned that “out of control” development of AI could “pose profound risks to society and humanity” and he’s not alone. Thousands of academics and tech industry figures, including Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, have signed an open letter warning of potential risks and claiming the race to develop AI systems is out of control. They are demanding AI labs to pause work on advanced AI systems whilst also urging governments to temporarily ban further research.

Concern has grown following the recent success of ChatGPT, with claims that the latest version of the software, GPT-4, shows signs of approaching human level intelligence.

The letter from Future of Life Institute is requesting development be halted temporarily and warns of the future risks more advanced systems could pose. The luminaries warn “AI systems with human-competitive intelligence can pose profound risks to society and humanity”. The Future of Life Institute is a not-for-profit organisation, rooted in their mission to “steer transformative technologies away from extreme, large-scale risks and towards benefitting life”.

There are also concerns around the flooding of misinformation and replacement of jobs with automation. In a new report, Goldman Sachs predicted that 300m full-time jobs could be impacted by the rise of generative AI where the work of lawyers and administrative staff risks being automated.

There is no doubt that AI chatbots such as ChatGPT, hold the potential to reform the way we interact with technology, but do they also pose a significant threat if unregulated? AI regulation has struggled to keep up with the recent explosive growth in the technology, pressing the development of industry standards to prevent the risk of AI getting out of control.

There have been a number of proposals for the regulation of technology in the US, UK and EU however the UK has ruled out a dedicated regulator for AI. Describing it as one of the “technologies of tomorrow”, the government states AI contributed £3.7 bn to the UK economy in 2022. A government spokesperson confirmed they will “avoid heavy handed legislation which could stifle innovation and take an adaptable approach to regulating AI.”

Ultimately, the impact of AI on the future of work will depend on the choices that we make as a society. By embracing the potential of AI while also mitigating its risks, we can create a future where AI enhances human capabilities and creates new opportunities for economic growth and social progress. Please note: this conclusion was written by ChatGPT.


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