Elon Musk, Steve Wozniak, and 1,700 Others Sign Letter Demanding Generative AI Development ‘Pause’
Around 1,700 people, including some of the most prominent names in the tech industry, have signed an open letter calling for a temporary halt of generative AI model development. Elon Musk, Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, and Stability AI CEO Emad Mostaque all want at least a six-month hiatus on “the training of AI systems more powerful than GPT-4,” according to the letter published by the Future of Life Institute.
According to the letter, generative AI systems pose a danger of out-competing humans and overwhelming communication channels with wrong and malicious misinformation. The signatories insist there should be more long-term planning and consideration of how and where AI should be deployed and that the current competition for developing such models is a reckless and dangerous race toward major problems. The letter is vague in identifying who it is written to, but appears to be calling for companies to stop their work on their own, with legislators and government agencies serving as a backup to mandate such a cessation for at least half a year.
“Powerful AI systems should be developed only once we are confident that their effects will be positive and their risks will be manageable. This confidence must be well justified and increase with the magnitude of a system’s potential effects,” the letter reads. “Therefore, we call on all AI labs to immediately pause for at least 6 months the training of AI 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. AI labs and independent experts should use this pause to jointly develop and implement a set of shared safety protocols for advanced AI design and development that are rigorously audited and overseen by independent outside experts. These protocols should ensure that systems adhering to them are safe beyond a reasonable doubt.”
The number of signatures attached to the letter grew quickly over a couple of days, passing 1,700 in the afternoon of Thursday, March 30. There have been some notable hiccups in the list, however, with several famous names used who did not sign on,, including Biil Gates, Ja Rule, and OpenAI founder Sam Altman himself. The editors of the letter removed the fake signatures and slowed the rate of new names appearing as they decided to vet the names more carefully before making them public and seeing the number grow. There are several AI engineers on the list, but notably, no one from OpenAI or its rival Anthropic. GPT-4 has only just been released and there’s no indication that GPT-5 is on the horizon, so the concerns may be overblown as it is. There’s a certain flavor of concern-trolling as well. Musk co-founded OpenAI but left in 2018 and has denounced it in public repeatedly, either because it stopped being a pure non-profit or, according to a Semafor report, because he tried to take it over and failed.