Tech leaders, including Sam Altman, issue a warning that artificial intelligence (A.I.) poses a risk of human extinction comparable to that of nuclear war.

Industry experts and tech leaders have issued a stark warning in an open letter, stating that artificial intelligence (AI) has the potential to lead to human extinction. They emphasize that reducing the risks associated with AI should be a global priority, alongside other societal-scale dangers such as pandemics and nuclear war.

The statement, supported and signed by prominent figures like Sam Altman, CEO of OpenAI, executives from Google’s AI arm DeepMind, and Microsoft, was released by the Center for AI Safety. It acknowledges the rapid advancements of AI technology, particularly highlighted by the popular chatbot ChatGPT, which garnered 100 million users within two months of its public release. ChatGPT’s ability to generate humanlike responses has sparked discussions about AI’s potential to replace jobs and mimic human behavior.

The letter highlights the need to address the spectrum of risks associated with advanced AI, noting that it can be challenging to express concerns regarding the most severe risks. Its aim is to overcome this obstacle and encourage open discussions on the subject. The widespread adoption of AI, driven in part by the popularity of ChatGPT, has prompted major companies worldwide to develop their own competing products and capabilities.

Altman, who previously expressed fear about AI and authoritarian governments, joins other tech leaders like Elon Musk and Eric Schmidt in cautioning about the societal risks posed by AI. In a separate open letter, Musk, Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, and several other industry leaders called for a halt in training AI systems to be more powerful than OpenAI’s latest model, GPT-4, advocating for a six-month pause in advanced development. The letter raised questions about the automation of all jobs, the creation of nonhuman minds that could surpass humans, and the potential loss of control over civilization.

Schmidt has also recently warned about the existential risks associated with AI as the technology continues to advance. These concerns reflect a growing awareness within the tech industry regarding the potential dangers AI poses to society.