A philosopher, maybe Yogi Berra, once said, “Everything taken to an extreme, is going too far.” Mr. Hassabis of Google's AI unit made some extreme statements when trying to analogize the potential problems of AI to the clear and present danger of climate change. He argues that super-intelligent systems using AI can create all sorts of problems, including the formation of bioweapons. However, such super-intelligent systems are incredibly expensive and, at least at this point, only hypothetical.
Yes, it took too long for the international community to coordinate responses to overuse of fossil fuels. No one sounded the warning, though, when the Industrial Revolution ushered in the burning of coal and later oil and gas. AI detractors are warning about outcomes and possibilities that are likely decades away. The anti-AI crowd seems to think that just because a chatbot can create an amazing sonnet or draft a high school essay, the next step will be replacing everyone's jobs and replacing humans with machines.
Yes, we should be thoughtful about AI. Yes, there should be guardrails. However, don't put unnecessary limits to a technology that could find cures for cancer, identify genetic diseases, and automate mundane and arduous tasks.
Part of the problem comes from misinformation and misunderstanding about AI's capabilities. Articles from professionals in the business of AI seem to give credibility to the clarion calls for reform and rules to protect us from the unknown. Recent developments in AI seem to do incredible things but it doesn't enable terrorists to take down democratic institutions and it doesn't destroy the economy.
Perhaps Mr. Hassabis is aiming for a raise from his employer given that his profession holds in its hands the future of humanity. His message of alarm is hyperbole. Take a deep breath and enjoy the AI revolution…. there are lots of poems and funny memes to enjoy.