Home Science & Technology Tech expert says ‘existential’ fears about AI are exaggerated, but sees ‘very worrying’ risks in the workplace

Tech expert says ‘existential’ fears about AI are exaggerated, but sees ‘very worrying’ risks in the workplace

Tech expert says ‘existential’ fears about AI are exaggerated, but sees ‘very worrying’ risks in the workplace

A British tech expert said he is awake at night due to recent AI developments, but has concerns that the AI ​​could become a hellish boss overseeing an employee’s every move.

Michael Wooldridge is Professor of Computer Science at the University of Oxford and a leading expert in the field of artificial intelligence for at least 30 years. This month, he spoke to The Guardian about upcoming lectures he will be giving this winter to explain AI, while highlighting his concerns about the technology.

He told the portal that he does not share the same concerns as some artificial intelligence experts who warn that powerful systems could one day lead to the collapse of humanity. Instead, one of his fears is that the AI ​​will turn into a hell of a boss who monitors employees’ emails, provides constant feedback, and can even decide which employees to fire.

“There are several prototype examples of these tools that are currently available. I find this very, very worrying,” he told The Guardian.


AI illustration

In this illustrative photo from July 18, 2023, you can see AI illustrations on a laptop with books in the background. (Jaap Arriens/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Artificial intelligence has already made its claims in several industries, for example, helping medical industry leaders diagnose cancer or detecting fraud in financial companies, and even producing legal opinions that cite relevant case law.

“I’m losing sleep because of the war in Ukraine, I’m losing sleep because of climate change, I’m losing sleep because of the rise of populist politics, and so on,” he said. “I’m awake when it comes to AI.”

Wooldridge explained to Fox News Digital in an email that “existential concerns about AI are speculative” and that “there are far more immediate and concrete existential concerns at the moment.”

“The most important of these is the escalation in Ukraine – it’s a very real possibility, which means that nuclear war is certainly closer now than at any time in the last 40 years. So if someone wants SOMETHING to keep them awake, I think that’s a much more important issue,” he said.


The person on the computer

Detail of a home office setup on a kitchen counter, including a laptop with Zoom video conferencing software, taken on September 9, 2020. (Photo: Phil Barker/Future Publishing via Getty Images)


Wooldridge did indeed say that the proliferation of AI and the increase in its intelligence brings with it other risks, such as bias or misinformation.

“It can read your social media feeds, pick up on your political leanings, and then feed you misinformation stories to, for example, get you to change your vote,” he said.


However, Wooldridge said users should arm themselves against such threats, viewing AI through a skeptical lens, and argued that the companies behind the technology needed to be transparent to the public.

“I don’t underestimate the existential concerns about AI, but to take them really seriously, you’d need to know a really plausible scenario of how AI could pose a threat (and not just “could be smarter than us”),” he added in a comment. to Fox News Digital.

A building on the campus of the University of Oxford

Five Orders Tower, Bodleian Library, University of Oxford, England, August 12, 2014. (Getty Images)

The Oxford professor will lead the UK’s prestigious public science lecture series in December – the Royal Institution’s Christmas Lectures, which have touched on a variety of scientific topics since they were launched in 1825. This year, he will be explaining AI to the public, highlighting that 2023 is “the first time we had general-purpose AI tools for the mass market, by which I mean ChatGPT.”

“For the first time, we had an AI that resembled the one we were promised, the AI ​​that we’ve seen in movies, computer games and books,” he said.

ChatGPT, a popular OpenAI chatbot that can mimic human conversation, gained immense popularity this year, gaining 100 million monthly active users by January, setting a record as the fastest-growing platform.

“IN [Christmas] lectures, when people see how this technology actually works, they will be amazed at what is actually going on there,” said Wooldridge. “This will make them much better prepared to enter a world where this is another tool they use” and therefore will not view it any differently than a pocket calculator or computer.

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The lectures will include the Turing test, which tests whether artificial intelligence exhibits human-level intelligence. People will have a written conversation with a chatbot, and if they can’t tell if they’re communicating with a human or a chatbot, it could mean that AI is on par with human intelligence, The Guardian reports.

ChatGPT student cheating illustration

The illustration shows the ChatGPT artificial intelligence software that generates a human-like conversation. (Getty photos)

Wooldridge, however, insisted that the test was not best suited to make such a determination.

“Some of my colleagues think we’ve basically passed the Turing test,” Wooldridge told The Guardian. “At some point in the last few years, technology has quietly reached the point where it can create text indistinguishable from text that a human would write.”

“I think it tells us that the Turing test, while simple, beautiful and historically important, is not really a great test for artificial intelligence,” he added.


Filming for the Christmas series will begin on December 12 and then air on BBC Four between Christmas and New Year.

“I want to try to demystify AI so that, for example, people using ChatGPT don’t imagine they are talking to a conscious mind. It’s not true!” Wooldridge told Fox about the upcoming lectures. “Once you understand how this technology works, you will have a much more grounded understanding of what it can do. We should see these tools – impressive as they are – as nothing more than tools. ChatGPT is much more sophisticated than a pocket calculator, but has much more to do with a pocket calculator than with the human mind.


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