The Artificial Intelligence revolution – which promises to change the way we live forever – has sparked a civil war in Silicon Valley.
Everything about the sci-fi inspired technology suggests it could impact society even more dramatically than the Industrial Revolution of the late 1700s.
On one side there are the AI fans, like Bill Gates, Google boss Sundar Pichai and futurist Ray Kurzweil who say AI is the key to providing a secure future for humanity.
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Meanwhile, people like Elon Musk, Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak and Astronomer Royal Lord Martin Rees argue that true AI could quickly take over the planet – and not long after that realise that it had no use for mankind.
Twitter boss Musk is among those who have called for development of AIs above a certain capacity to be halted for at least six months.
An open letter signed by a number of tech insiders, says: "AI systems with human-competitive intelligence can pose profound risks to society and humanity”.
It adds: "Recent months have seen AI labs locked in an out-of-control race to develop and deploy ever more powerful digital minds that no-one – not even their creators – can understand, predict, or reliably control”.
Eliezer Yudkowsky from the Machine Intelligence Research Institute has warned that "the most likely result of building a superhumanly smart AI, under anything remotely like the current circumstances, is that literally everyone on Earth will die".
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The letter warns that AIs could flood the internet with dangerous misinformation, and put tens of thousands of people out of work.
In recent months, we have seen evidence that huge numbers of workers are likely to be replaced with faster, cheaper, AI equivalents.
The big US tech firms are leading the charge – with 118,000 people laid off from companies like Amazon since the beginning of 2023, and another 140,000 jobs lost last year.
A recent report from top bankers Goldman Sachs says that AI could replace "300 million" full-time jobs.
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Experts have warned that the output of text-based AI software like ChatGPT is indistinguishable from work written by humans.
That’s making things rather difficult for people marking essays from university students, but it will soon make life impossible for anyone who uses email, or social media, or reads the news.
Stuart Russell, a computer-science professor at the University of California, Berkeley, also signed the letter. He told BBC News: "AI systems pose significant risks to democracy through weaponised disinformation, to employment through displacement of human skills and to education through plagiarism and demotivation."
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Russell added that future advanced AIs may pose a "more general threat to human control over our civilisation".
DeepAI founder Kevin Baragona says that even if AI development stopped today, it would still change our society forever.
He told the Daily Mail: “Large language models as they exist today are already a revolution enough to power ten years of monumental growth, even with no further technology advances. They're already incredibly disruptive.”
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