Artificial Intelligence: 'Terminator' warning of human extinction a 'publicity stunt'

Professor claims AI warning letter is a 'publicity stunt'

A claim that Artificial Intelligence (AI) could wipe out humanity is a “publicity stunt,” a University of Oxford professor has said.

Professor Sandra Wachter said the claim made by non-profit Centre for AI Safety in a letter signed by experts and AI pioneers is “science fiction fantasy” comparable to the film The Terminator.

Senior bosses at companies such as Google DeepMind and Anthropic signed the letter along with a pioneer of AI, Geoffrey Hinton, who resigned from his job at Google earlier this month.

The letter warns that AI poses a threat on a par with a global pandemic or nuclear war. Rishi Sunak retweeted the warning and said the Government was looking "very carefully” at it.

But Professor Wachter said: “There are risks, there are serious risks, but it’s not the risks that are getting all of the attention at the moment.

“What we see with this new open letter is a science fiction fantasy that distracts from the issue right here right now. The issues around bias, discrimination and the environmental impact.

“Let’s focus on people’s jobs being replaced. These things are being completely sidelined by the Terminator scenario.

“What we know about technology now, the probability [of human extinction due to AI] is close to zero. People should worry about other things.”

AI apps have have become popular online, with users posting fake images of celebrities and politicians, and students using ChatGPT and other “language learning models” to generate university-grade essays.

But AI can also perform life-saving tasks, such as algorithms analysing medical images like X-rays, scans and ultrasounds, helping doctors to identify and diagnose diseases such as cancer and heart conditions more accurately and quickly.

The letter said: “Mitigating the risk of extinction from AI should be a global priority alongside other societal-scale risks such as pandemics and nuclear war.”