The former CEO of Google has warned that artificial intelligence is an “existential threat” to humanity, with the potential to harm and kill many in the future.
Eric Schmidt, who spent two decades at the helm of the search giant, told the Board of Directors summit in The Wall Street Journal on Wednesday, May 20, that artificial intelligence does not currently pose a serious threat, but it could be abused by the “bad guys” when it becomes more advanced.
And AI can help find vulnerabilities in software or new species. It’s important to ensure these systems aren’t “misused by the bad guys,” notes the veteran CEO.
Schmidt, who recently chaired the US National Security Committee on Artificial Intelligence, is the latest in a group of former Google employees to speak out against the technology’s rapid development in recent weeks.
Schmidt focused, in particular, on the growing ability of artificial intelligence to detect vulnerabilities in software intended for hackers, and on the inevitable search for new biological pathways by this technology, which could lead to the creation of frightening new biological weapons.
“There are scenarios not today, but soon enough, when these systems can detect zero-day vulnerabilities in cyber problems or discover new types of biology,” Schmidt explained ahead of the Wall Street Journal CEB summit in London.
So-called “zero-day vulnerabilities” are security flaws in code – from personal computers to digital banking and infrastructure – that have just been discovered and therefore not yet patched by cybersecurity teams. Zero days are valuable tools in a hacker’s arsenal.
Schmidt did not elaborate on “new kinds of biology” but warned that while these predictions may seem “fancy” today, his reasoning is likely correct. And when that happens, “we want to be ready to figure out how to make sure these things don’t get used by the bad guys.”
Schmidt’s comments, which are not his first warnings, join a heated debate in Silicon Valley about ethical issues and the deadly danger posed by artificial intelligence.
Elon Musk, Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, and the late Stephen Hawking are among the most prominent critics of artificial intelligence, who believe that it poses a “profound danger to society and humanity” and can have “catastrophic consequences.”
Here, on the other side of the debate, Bill Gates and others hail this technology as “the most important innovation of our time.”
But among those tech giants on both sides of the debate, only Schmidt helped create a massive 756-page report for the US government on the national security risks posed by artificial intelligence.
“America is not ready to defend or compete in the age of artificial intelligence. This is the harsh reality we must face,” wrote Schmidt and his deputy on the US National Security Committee on Artificial Intelligence in 2021.
“We cannot defend against AI-related threats without ubiquitous AI capabilities and new combat models,” he added.
And during his last speech in London this week, Schmidt told the assembled CEOs that he doesn’t have a clear idea of how AI should be regulated, or even what it should be.
Source: Daily Mail
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