Former OpenAI Director Warns There Are Bad Things AI Can Do Besides Kill You

“There’s a lot of other ways that AI could really take things in a bad direction.”

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One of the OpenAI directors who worked to oust CEO Sam Altman is issuing some stark warnings about the future of unchecked artificial intelligence.

In an interview during Axios‘ AI+ summit, former OpenAI board member Helen Toner suggested that the risks AI poses to humanity aren’t just worst-case scenarios from science fiction.

“I just think sometimes people hear the phrase ‘existential risk’ and they just think Skynet, and robots shooting humans,” Toner said, referencing the evil AI technology from the “Terminator” films that’s often used as a metaphor for worst-case-scenario AI predictions.

“There’s a lot of other ways that AI could really take things in a bad direction,” the ex-board member said, “and we do ourselves a disservice by locking in these very specific stories.”

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As a top researcher at Georgetown’s Center for Security and Technology, Toner’s career has been built on researching tech threats. During the course of her work at Georgetown, the researcher criticized OpenAI’s safety protocols in a safety brief that may have led to Altman’s brief ouster from the company late last November.

Since that Thanksgiving massacre, which ultimately resulted in Toner’s resignation from the OpenAI board, the researcher has remained pretty tight-lipped about why she and some of her fellow directors had lost faith in the CEO’s leadership.

She did, however, reveal last month that she and her fellow board members didn’t know about the company releasing ChatGPT until they read about it on Twitter — the sort of move that could seemingly constitute the kind of breach of trust referenced in their statement announcing Altman’s firing.

In her remarks to Axios‘ Ina Fried, the researcher suggested that people are scared because they don’t know the nuts and bolts of the technology — a state of affairs OpenAI could fix by being more open about its wares.

“This is a very powerful technology,” she said. “We don’t know how it works. Right now it’s being developed and pushed forward by a very small group of people.”

Beyond demystifying AI, however, Toner is now singing a different tune than she was even six months ago.

“I definitely want to give the new board a chance,” Toner said during the Axios summit. “They have a lot of new structures in place that were not possible for us to put in place before November.”

More on OpenAI expats: Former OpenAI Employee Says Company Had Plan to Start AGI Bidding War With China and Russia

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This post was originally published on Futurism

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