Geoffrey Hinton, who has been called the “Godfather of AI”, confirmed on Monday that he left his role at Google last week to speak out about the “dangers” of the technology he helped develop, according to a media report.
Hinton’s pioneering work on neural networks shaped artificial intelligence systems, powering many of today’s products.
He worked part-time at Google for a decade on its AI development efforts, but he has since come to have concerns about the technology and his role in advancing it, CNN reported.
“I console myself with the normal excuse: If I hadn’t done it, somebody else would have,” Hinton told the New York Times, which was first to report his decision.
In a tweet on Monday, Hinton said he left Google so he could speak freely about the risks of AI, rather than because of a desire to criticise Google specifically, CNN reported.
“I left so that I could talk about the dangers of AI without considering how this impacts Google,” Hinton said in a tweet, adding: “Google has acted very responsibly.”
Jeff Dean, chief scientist at Google, said Hinton, “has made foundational breakthroughs in AI”, and expressed appreciation for Hinton’s “decade of contributions at Google”.
Hinton’s decision to step back from the company and speak out on the technology comes as a growing number of lawmakers, advocacy groups and tech insiders have raised alarm about the potential for a new crop of AI-powered chatbots to spread misinformation and displace jobs, CNN reported.
The wave of attention around ChatGPT late last year helped renew an arms race among the tech companies to develop and deploy similar AI tools in their products.
OpenAI, Microsoft and Google are at the forefront of this trend, but IBM, Amazon, Baidu and Tencent are working on similar technologies, CNN reported.