Eric Schmidt, the former CEO of Google and a close ally of both Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden, has issued a stark warning about the lack of current safeguards in AI, likening its development to the historical challenges of nuclear weapon regulation.
Axios reports that Eric Schmidt, who led Google from 2001 to 2011, expressed serious concerns about the trajectory of AI development at the Axios AI+ Summit in Washington DC. He cautioned that AI could pose a threat to humanity within the next five to ten years, especially if it reaches a stage where it can make autonomous decisions. This estimation narrows down the previously believed timeline of around 20 years, with some experts now suggesting that this critical point could be as soon as just two to four years away.
Schmidt’s remarks echo the growing unease among tech leaders about AI’s potential risks. During a closed-door AI forum in September, attended by influential figures like Mark Zuckerberg, Elon Musk, and Bill Gates, there was a consensus on the need for robust safety and accessibility policies for AI. Musk, in particular, highlighted AI as a “civilization risk,” emphasizing the urgency for dedicated federal oversight.
Schmidt compared the current state of AI development to the post-World War II era’s handling of nuclear weapons, noting the lengthy process to establish treaties and regulations back then. He stressed that such a luxury of time does not exist in today’s rapidly advancing AI landscape.
Despite these warnings, Schmidt also acknowledged the positive potential of AI. He highlighted the benefits AI could bring in fields like healthcare and education, a sentiment shared by Gates who has praised AI’s recent advancements. He also praised Sam Altman, the CEO of ChatGPT developer OpenAI, who was briefly ousted after senior researchers at the company warned its board of directors of a breakthrough that could threaten humanity. Despite this praise, Schmidt’s overall tone remains cautious, with Schmidt previously stating that AI could cause harm or even death, posing existential risks.
These concerns come amidst a broader call for regulation in the AI sector. At the end of October, the Biden White House issued an executive order on AI that focuses on “equity” and “civil rights.”
Read more at Axios here.
Lucas Nolan is a reporter for Breitbart News covering issues of free speech and online censorship.