OpenAI Employees Warn of Advanced AI Dangers

Several current and former employees of OpenAI and Google DeepMind today shared an open letter warning of the dangers of advanced AI and the current lack of oversight of companies working on AI technology.

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The employees suggest there are a number of risks that we are facing from AI development, including further entrenchment of existing inequalities, manipulation and misinformation, and loss of control of autonomous AI systems, which the letter says could lead to human extinction.

AI companies have "strong financial incentives" to forge ahead with development and to avoid sharing information about their protective measures and risk levels. "We do not think they can all be relied upon to share it voluntarily," reads the letter, which says that it is up to current and former employees to speak out.

So long as there is no effective government oversight of these corporations, current and former employees are among the few people who can hold them accountable to the public. Yet broad confidentiality agreements block us from voicing our concerns, except to the very companies that may be failing to address these issues. Ordinary whistleblower protections are insufficient because they focus on illegal activity, whereas many of the risks we are concerned about are not yet regulated.

Employees are ultimately calling on AI companies to offer solid whistleblower protections for speaking out about the risks of AI.

  • Avoid creating or enforcing agreements that prevent criticism for risk-related concerns.
  • Offer a verifiably anonymous process for employees to raise risk-related concerns to the board, regulators, and independent organizations with relevant expertise.
  • Support a culture of open criticism to allow employees to raise risk-related concerns about technologies to the public, the board, regulators, and more, as long as trade secrets are protected.
  • Avoid retaliating against employees who publicly share risk-related confidential information after other processes have failed.

A total of 13 employees signed the letter, including seven former OpenAI employees, four current OpenAI employees, one former Google DeepMind employee, and one current Google DeepMind employee. OpenAI has threatened employees with loss of vested equity for speaking up, and it makes them sign draconian NDA agreements that muzzle criticism.

The letter comes as Apple prepares to announce multiple AI-powered features for iOS 18 and other software updates on Monday. Apple is working on its own AI functionality that will be baked into apps across the operating system, plus it has signed a deal with OpenAI to integrate ChatGPT features into ‌iOS 18‌.

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Top Rated Comments

iBreatheApple Avatar
6 weeks ago
I really can’t handle all the doom and gloom we have to face on a daily basis. The sky is falling media headlines, the election, protests, our country’s border disintegrating (USA), people being hateful and violent in general, the comment sections online, knowing about every injustice that ever happens, every tragedy, every disaster…
Where is the internet kill switch.
Score: 43 Votes (Like | Disagree)
goobot Avatar
6 weeks ago
Who cares about human extinction when we can increase our profits from 80 billion to 81 billion
Score: 38 Votes (Like | Disagree)
GoosePoops Avatar
6 weeks ago
I, for one, welcome our new AI overlords.
Score: 34 Votes (Like | Disagree)
icanhazmac Avatar
6 weeks ago
I applaud their efforts but I fear this cat is out of the bag and even if civilized countries and/or entities behave, others won't.
Score: 32 Votes (Like | Disagree)
subjonas Avatar
6 weeks ago

Uhmm, if a potential whistle-blower is witnessing a threat as serious as human extinction, why is he or she worried about potential retaliation from the corporation? In a situation like that, you blow the whistle no matter the personal consequences, unless, of course, you're just being a bit dramatic.
Because no one really knows exactly how likely or big the risk is, there are too many variables. And it’s really easy to tell someone else to put their livelihood on the line. What they’ve done already takes more courage than most people have.
Score: 26 Votes (Like | Disagree)
123jmail Avatar
6 weeks ago
Uhmm, if a potential whistle-blower is witnessing a threat as serious as human extinction, why is he or she worried about potential retaliation from the corporation? In a situation like that, you blow the whistle no matter the personal consequences, unless, of course, you're just being a bit dramatic.
Score: 14 Votes (Like | Disagree)