Mar 29, 2023, 10:27am EDT
techNorth America

Elon Musk signs open letter calling for a pause on AI training

Elon Musk.
NTB/Carina Johansen via REUTERS

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The News

Telsa and Twitter CEO Elon Musk CEO joined Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak and hundreds of other people in urging artificial intelligence labs to stop training powerful machine learning models for at least six months.

The letter, organized by the Future of Life Institute, states that in recent months, AI labs have been "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."

It calls for the training moratorium in order to come up with safety and ethics protocol for powerful AI systems.

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Know More

In addition to Musk and Wozniak, other apparent signatories include Pinterest cofounder Evan Sharp, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists President Rachel Bronson, and several other figures in tech and academia.

As of Wednesday morning, over 1,100 people had added their names to the letter.

Some in the AI world also signed the letter, including researchers at DeepMind, an AI research lab that's a subsidiary of Google's parent company, as well as Emad Mostaque, CEO of Stability AI, the company behind the popular text-to-image model Stable Diffusion.

Mostaque said on Twitter that he doesn't agree with everything in the letter, but that the current speed of the AI race "is not safe for something the creators consider as potentially an existential risk."

"Time to take a breath, coordinate and carry on," he added.

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Step Back

The letter follows the recent public release of several large AI models, chatbots, and image generators, including OpenAI's GPT-4, Bing Chat, Google's Bard chatbot, and others.

The letter specifically calls out OpenAI in asking for a pause on training future AI systems more powerful than GPT-4.

Musk's participation as a signatory also continues his feud with OpenAI and its CEO Sam Altman. Musk helped found and fund OpenAI, but told Altman in 2018 that he believed the venture had fallen fatally behind Google, Semafor reported last week.

Musk proposed running OpenAI himself, but the other founders rejected that idea, so Musk walked away from the company.

Musk has openly criticized OpenAI on Twitter since the company released ChatGPT late last year, triggering a race among competitors to release their own AI models.


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