"It can be very harmful if deployed wrongly... So does that keep me up at night? Absolutely."
Workers of the World
Google CEO Sundar Pichai is warning that our feeble civilization at large will be massively affected by the advancement of AI — and that we should all brace for impact.
"We need to adapt as a society for it," Pichai told a credulous Scott Pelley during an interview on CBS's "60 Minutes," as quoted by CNBC.
"This is going to impact every product across every company," Pichai added, warning that "knowledge workers" like writers, accountants, architects, and even software engineers would be affected.
Besides potentially forcing a complete restructuring of the workforce and running people out of their jobs, the harm inflicted by AI could be a lot more direct and insidious, Pichai said. For instance, bad actors could use it to deliberately spread misinformation.
"It can be very harmful if deployed wrongly and we don't have all the answers there yet — and the technology is moving fast," Pichai told CBS. "So does that keep me up at night? Absolutely."
And trust us: if people can be fooled by an AI-generated image of Pope Francis rocking a white Balenciaga puffer, they could arguably just as easily fall for fake media reports generated for far more nefarious reasons.
"It will be possible with AI to create, you know, a video easily, where it could be Scott saying something, or me saying something, and we never said that," Pichai said. On a "societal scale," that "can cause a lot of harm."
Rather than abandoning AI, however, Pichai posits that society will have to start paying attention and enact more laws and regulations that "align with human values including morality," Pichai said during the interview.
"It's not for a company to decide," he added. "This is why I think the development of this needs to include not just engineers but social scientists, ethicists, philosophers, and so on."
Indeed, human society as a whole will have some catching up to do as AIs continue to improve at a rapid pace, though don't let Pichai's society-focused sentiment absolve Google of any responsibility, either.
For its part, the company has recently released a twenty-page document outlining "recommendations for regulating AI."
But whether Google will end up playing by its own rules and heed its CEO's warnings is another question entirely.
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