What to know about the ‘Stop AI’ letter from Elon Musk, Steve Wozniak and others

Elon Musk, Steve Wozniak and hundreds of other AI experts have called for a six-month pause in AI development.

In an open letter published by the nonprofit Future of Life Institute, Musk and others sounded the alarm about the profound risks that advanced artificial intelligence poses to society and humanity.

The letter says AI labs are locked in an “out-of-control race” to develop and deploy systems that no one can understand, predict or reliably control.

In it, the signatories call for a public and verifiable pause in AI development for at least six months, as well as the development of safety protocols for advanced AI design and development.

What does the letter mean for using AI in your business and career?

I spoke with Marketing AI Institute founder/CEO Paul Retzer on episode 41 of the Marketing AI Show to answer that question.

  • Don’t expect a ban to actually happen. “It’s not going to happen,” says Retzer. It is not practical or possible to implement or enforce the prohibition described in the letter. The letter is said to be a PR stunt in part. However, that’s not all.
  • But don’t ignore the letter. The letter was signed by many trusted people. Many people (including Paul) signed it while fully admitting that they disagreed with it all. That’s because the letter raises issues we can no longer ignore.
  • AI will have a huge near-term impact that we are not prepared for. Today, we are unprepared for the impact of artificial intelligence on disinformation, propaganda, especially during election season in the United States. “The ability to tell what’s real and what’s not is almost gone,” says Retzer.
  • That includes a major impact on employment. People don’t talk enough about potential job losses due to advanced artificial intelligence. “I think there’s going to be a lot of pain,” Retzer says. “AI is coming to knowledge work faster than anyone is ready.”
  • In short, we need to talk now. All of these factors make it important that we take the conversation about the risks of AI into the mainstream, and the letter helps to do that. “The important thing is that we have very smart people who are thinking about these issues, thinking about the impact in their region, in their country, in their industry, and starting to understand how to move forward.” says Retzer.
  • Because it’s up to us to figure it out. UNESCO just called on governments to adopt its ethical AI framework. Italy just banned ChatGPT. AI is quickly becoming a political flashpoint. On the one hand, it can bring sensible regulations and guardrails. On the other hand, it could also mean politicians who don’t understand the leap in technology to implement unhelpful or destructive AI policies. The better companies and business leaders understand the issues at hand, the better they will be able to understand what is a sensible conversation and what is not.

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