The ‘godfather of AI’ quits Google to speak of future dangers

2 May 2023

Image: © Alexander/

Hinton shared concerns about AI being used for nefarious purposes, along with the potential risk to the job market and the current arms race between tech giants.

Geoffrey Hinton, a pioneer in AI research, has left his job at Google to speak about the dangers of artificial intelligence.

Hinton has led research groups on deep learning and neural networks, having a substantial impact in the field of AI and paving the way for current breakthrough products such as ChatGPT. He is known as the “Godfather of AI” for his work in these fields.

He was a recipient of the Turing Award in 2019, often referred to as the ‘Nobel prize for computing’, for his work in deep learning.

Hinton has worked with Google for around a decade, but told The New York Times that he has left in order to speak freely about the risks around this technology.

On Twitter, Hinton specified that he wishes to pursue this endeavour “without considering how this impacts Google”. He also said that “Google has acted very responsibly” when it comes to AI.

In the New York Times interview, Hinton shared various concerns he has about AI, such as the threat that this technology could be used for nefarious purposes.

“It is hard to see how you can prevent the bad actors from using it for bad things,” Hinton told The New York Times.

Hinton spoke about how rapidly AI technology is developing, noting the difference in these systems now compared to five years ago. He said it is “scary” to think about the advancement that could occur in the future when you propagate that difference forward.

In an interview with the BBC, Hinton said AI systems like GPT-4 could eventually overtake the level of information that a human brain holds.

“Given the rate of progress, we expect things to get better quite fast,” Hinton told the BBC. “So we need to worry about that.”

In The New York Times interview, Hinton noted the current competition taking place between tech giants Google and Microsoft to deploy the latest AI technology. This race began when Microsoft introduced ChatGPT into Bing, in a bid to get an edge over Google in the search engine market.

Google responded with Bard, its own AI-powered chatbot. Since then, the two companies have been working to integrate AI into various products and services.

Hinton’s immediate concern with AI is the risk that fake images, videos and text with flood the internet, with a fear that the average person will “not be able to know what is true anymore”.

He also raised concerns that – in time – AI will cause a commotion to the job market, as while these systems are currently used to “take away the drudge work”, they could become more versatile in the future.

In March, a Goldman Sachs report claimed up to 300m jobs worldwide could be replaced by generative AI, if these products live up to the hype surrounding them.

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Leigh Mc Gowran is a journalist with Silicon Republic