Elon Musk & Future of Life’s Call to Halt AI Systems Training Is The Wrong Move
Instead, OpenAI, Google, and other AI labs should develop and train their AI systems while simultaneously innovating in privacy, security, ethics, trust, and safety
Future of Life recently published an open letter for AI labs to immediately halt the training of AI systems more powerful than GPT-4, a call that was endorsed by Elon Musk and 20,000+ tech professionals. It was a call heard by the Italian data protection regulator (the Garante), which subsequently banned chatGPT in Italy . Setting aside the proponents’ potentially competing agenda and ulterior motives, their call to halt AI development and training is ineffective, inappropriate, and the wrong move. It suggests a zero-sum game and an unnecessary false tradeoff between AI on one side and privacy, security, ethics, and safety on the other. Instead, I call for AI labs to do what they should’ve done from the very beginning: to develop and train AI systems, while innovating in privacy, security, trust, and safety.
The call to halt AI development and training is inappropriate given generative AI’s broad utility and legitimate uses. Unlike other technologies (such as social media and facial recognition, for example), AI applications span almost every facet of life, from law, medicine, and engineering, to human resources, operations, and marketing and sales, just to name a few. In contrast, some governments rightly stepped in to ban facial recognition technologies because their limited uses often didn’t justify their broad data collection and use, violating data minimization and proportionality privacy principles. Even more damning is the worldwide regulatory failure to ban harmful social media technologies, which have far less utility than AI.
Moreover, the proponents’ call is unlikely to work. Telling a bunch of innovators not to develop cutting-edge technology is like leaving shiny, new Lego blocks in front of curious toddlers and asking them not to play and build something out of it. A halt is negative and demoralizing, whereas a challenge to innovate is positive and incentivizing. Plus, a halt is unlikely to happen, without regulators stepping in with overreaching…