scorecardMicrosoft's chief scientific officer says there's no need for a pause on AI — despite what Elon Musk says
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Microsoft's chief scientific officer says there's no need for a pause on AI despite what Elon Musk says

Sarah Jackson   

Microsoft's chief scientific officer says there's no need for a pause on AI — despite what Elon Musk says
Tech2 min read
Microsoft exec Eric Horvitz (left) told Fortune it's "reasonable" for people to be concerned about the development of AI, but said we need to "jump in, as opposed to pause," like Elon Musk and some others have called for.    Microsoft; Justin Sullivan / Getty Images
  • Microsoft's chief scientific officer says he disagrees with people calling for a pause on AI development, including Elon Musk.
  • Eric Horvitz told Fortune it's "reasonable" for people to be concerned but that we need to "jump in, as opposed to pause."

Microsoft's chief scientific officer has addressed an open letter signed by Elon Musk and thousands of others calling for a pause on AI development.

Eric Horvitz told Fortune in an interview published Sunday that while he respects the people who signed the letter and understood that people might have concerns about AI, he believes an "acceleration" — not a pause — is actually necessary.

"I really actually respect [those that signed the letter]," he told Fortune. "And I think it's reasonable that people are concerned ... To me, I would prefer to see more knowledge, and even an acceleration of research and development, rather than a pause for six months, which I am not sure if it would even be feasible. It's a very ill-defined request in some ways."

Horvitz continued: "In a larger sense, six months doesn't really mean very much for a pause. We need to really just invest more in understanding and guiding and even regulating this technology—jump in, as opposed to pause."

Microsoft has invested billions of dollars into a partnership with OpenAI, the company behind ChatGPT.

The letter, published in late March by the nonprofit Future of Life Institute, said AI labs were "locked in an out-of-control race to develop and deploy" the technology without sufficient safety protocols. Its signatories called for a six-month pause on the development of AI systems more powerful than OpenAI's GPT-4, which launched earlier that month.

Still, the letter's signatories aren't the only ones who are concerned.

On Monday, Geoffrey Hinton, a computer scientist who worked at Google for more than a decade and is nicknamed "the Godfather of AI," told The New York Times he regretted playing a foundational role in developing artificial intelligence.

OpenAI CEO Sam Altman has also addressed the March letter. Speaking at a recent MIT event, he said, "There's parts of the thrust that I really agree with," but added that the letter "lacked technical nuance about where we need the pause."

Meanwhile, Musk — who didn't respond to a request for comment from Insider — recently confirmed reports that he wants to build an AI startup to create a rival to ChatGPT.

Musk cofounded OpenAI in 2015 alongside Altman and others but left the board in 2018. The stated reason at the time was to avoid a possible conflict of interest with Tesla, but Musk later said another factor was that he "didn't agree with some of what OpenAI team wanted to do."

Since stepping down from OpenAI's board, Musk has repeatedly criticized the company.




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