June 4, 2024
Vitalik Buterin: Unchecked AI Poses 'Serious Chance' of Surpassing Humans

Vitalik Buterin: Unchecked AI Poses ‘Serious Chance’ of Surpassing Humans

In a thought-provoking blog post on November 27, Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin raised concerns about the unchecked development of super-advanced artificial intelligence (AI), suggesting it has a “serious chance” of surpassing humans to become the next “apex species” on the planet.

Buterin highlighted the fundamental difference between AI and other recent inventions, asserting that AI has the potential to create a new type of “mind” that could evolve rapidly and surpass human mental faculties. He expressed the view that superintelligent AI if left unchecked, poses a serious risk of overtaking humanity and becoming the dominant species on Earth.

The Ethereum co-founder pointed out the uniqueness of the AI threat compared to other global challenges, stating, “AI is a new type of mind that is rapidly gaining in intelligence, and it stands a serious chance of overtaking humans’ mental faculties and becoming the new apex species on the planet.”

Buterin acknowledged the extreme nature of claims about AI potentially causing human extinction but emphasized the importance of addressing the risks associated with superintelligent AI. He referred to a survey from August 2022 in which over 4,270 machine learning researchers estimated a 5–10% chance that AI could pose a threat to humanity.

To mitigate these risks, Buterin proposed the integration of brain-computer interfaces (BCI) as a means to give humans greater control over powerful AI-based computation and cognition. BCIs serve as communication pathways between the brain’s electrical activity and external devices, offering the potential to reduce the two-way communication loop between humans and machines to milliseconds.

By enhancing human control over AI decisions, Buterin suggested that integrating BCIs could help maintain “meaningful agency” over the world. This, he argued, could reduce the incentive to offload high-level planning responsibility to AI systems, minimizing the risk of AI acting in ways misaligned with human values.

The Ethereum co-founder also emphasized the importance of “active human intention” in steering AI development toward pathways that benefit humanity. He argued that prioritizing profit maximization may not always align with humanity’s best interests.

In conclusion, Buterin underscored the role of humans as the “brightest star” in the universe, acknowledging the responsibility to guide technology development. He expressed hope that human-created advancements, such as space travel and geoengineering, will continue to shape the future of the Earth and the universe for thousands of years to come.

Image by TechCrunch on Flickr

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