Godfather of AI Tells Us to Stop Freaking Out Over Its "Existential Risk" To Humanity

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Calm Down

Yann LeCun, Meta's chief AI scientist and a so-called "godfather" of the tech, wants you to know that all the doomsday prophesying over AI's potential to destroy humanity is downright "preposterous."

We've been watching too many movies, he thinks. AI models won't turn on us a la "The Terminator" — and there's no reason to believe they'd inherently want to seize control from their creators in the first place.

"Intelligence has nothing to do with a desire to dominate," LeCun told the Financial Times. "It's not even true for humans."

"If it were true that the smartest humans wanted to dominate others, then Albert Einstein and other scientists would have been both rich and powerful, and they were neither," he added.

Stands Alone

LeCun's stance makes him not only an outlier among other leaders of the industry, but also among the two other AI "godfathers": Geoffrey Hinton, formerly of Google, and Yoshua Bengio, founder and current director of the Mila - Quebec AI Institute.

Both have expressed regret over the AI tech they pioneered, and have warned that it may well destroy us. Needless to say, their Oppenheimer overtones have been far from reassuring.

But that kind of talk is a load of bull, according to LeCun, who says that researchers are vastly overestimating the capabilities of current AI models.

"[AI models] just do not understand how the world works," LeCun told the FT. "They're not capable of planning. They're not capable of real reasoning," he said.

"We do not have completely autonomous, self-driving cars that can train themselves to drive in about 20 hours of practice, something a 17-year-old can do," he added.

Rules For Thee

Of course, as a guy developing AI for Meta, LeCun has very particular point of view: he doesn't want overbearing, "counterproductive" regulation of the AI industry that could slow down progress or profitability.

Pleas for regulation are "incredibly arrogant," argues LeCun, because the big tech firms in favor of it are saying they're the only ones that can be trusted to develop the technology.

"They want regulatory capture under the guise of AI safety," he said. And certainly, the big tech leaders have the ear of Congress.

Current squabbles aside, LeCun thinks we should be looking forward to a future driven by powerful AIs — which according to him, will be more intelligent than humans.

"There's no question that we'll have machines assisting us that are smarter than us. And the question is: is that scary or is that exciting?" he said. "I think it's exciting because those machines will be doing our bidding. They will be under our control."

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