"Now, this is fiction today, but its reasoning is likely to be true."
Four Too Many
Former Google CEO Eric Schmidt, who just last week said that AI companies should be left to regulate themselves, warned the crowd at The Wall Street Journal's CEO Council Summit in London on Wednesday that AI tech poses an "existential risk" to humanity, NBC reports. And in case you were wondering how severe Schmidt's definition of existential risk is, don't worry. He clarified.
An "existential risk," said the former Google CEO, according to NBC. "is defined as many, many, many, many people harmed or killed."
"There are scenarios not today, but reasonably soon, where these systems will be able to find zero-day exploits in cyber issues, or discover new kinds of biology," Schmidt, per NBC, continued. "Now, this is fiction today, but its reasoning is likely to be true. And when that happens, we want to be ready to know how to make sure these things are not misused by evil people."
So again, just to be clear: Schmidt thinks that AI companies should definitely regulate themselves, regardless of the fact that he also believes that the technology they're building could get "many, many, many, many people harmed or killed." Got it!
Not Adding Up
To be fair, Schmidt isn't wrong to voice these kinds of existential concerns, nor is he wrong about the fact that AI could certainly be misused — indeed, it already has.
Even so, we can't help but point out that warning AI could wreak mass murder just a little over a week after arguing against government regulation in favor of honor code rules feels... well, wildly backward.
To that end, it's also worth noting that the former Googler, who currently sits at number 57 on the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, has been on an AI-focused media tear lately — though it's not totally clear why.
Sure, Google has been a pioneer in AI R&D for over a decade, and is currently battling it out with OpenAI and Microsoft for control over the AI marketplace. Schmidt, however, who stepped down from his CEO role in 2011 and then from his board position in 2019, hasn't held an official role with the organization for a few years now.
But who knows — maybe Schmidt has a forthcoming AI venture in the works, or maybe he's just very passionate about the tech. Or, perhaps, it has a little something to do with that one percent stake in Alphabet, Google's parent company, that Schmidt reportedly still owns.
In any case, we'll be watching to see where his media tour takes him next.
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