Industry heavyweights including Twitter CEO Elon Musk, Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, AI groups and academics called for a six-month pause in the development of AI systems more powerful than OpenAI’s GPT-4, warning of the risks rapid advancement posed to society and humanity.

In open letter issued by non-profit organisation Future of Life Institute, more than 1,000 signatories from the technology and education sectors stated research had shown AI systems with human-competitive intelligence posed profound risks, and so should be planned and managed with commensurate care and resources.

However, the group noted this was not the current state of the landscape, with AI labs in recent months “locked in an out-of-control race to deploy and develop even more powerful digital minds that no-one, not even their creators, can understand, predict or reliably control”.

To that end, the group called for an immediate pause on the training of new systems more powerful than GPT-4.

“This pause should be public and verifiable and include all key actors. If such a pause cannot be enacted quickly, governments should step in and institute a moratorium,” they wrote.

Dangerous race
AI language model GPT-4 was released earlier this month by OpenAI, a developer backed by Microsoft, and it is now aggressively rolling out the technology into its products.

GPT-4 was released as a follow-up to generative AI platform ChatGPT, which attracted headlines across the industry and rapid user uptake.

Google moved to rival Microsoft by pushing its own AI products following a significant backing of developer Anthropic.

The letter’s signatories added AI laboratories and experts should use the proposed pause to develop and implement a set of shared safety protocols for advanced design and development which are rigorously audited.

They added the call is not for a pause on AI development in general, but “merely a stepping back from the dangerous race to ever-larger, unpredictable black-box models with emergent capabilities”.