A Note From Ray Kurzweil on the Recent Call to Pause Work on AI More Powerful Than GPT-4

Editor’s Note: The following is a brief letter from Ray Kurzweil, cofounder and member of the board at Singularity Group, Singularity Hub’s parent company, in response to the Future of Life Institute’s recent letter, “Pause Giant AI Experiments: An Open Letter.”

The FLI letter addresses the risks of accelerating progress in AI and the ensuing race to commercialize the technology and calls for a pause in the development of algorithms more powerful than OpenAI’s GPT-4, the large language model behind the company’s ChatGPT Plus and Microsoft’s Bing chatbot. The FLI letter has thousands of signatories—including deep learning pioneer, Yoshua Bengio, University of California Berkeley professor of computer science, Stuart Russell, Stability AI CEO, Emad Mostaque, Elon Musk, and many others—and has stirred vigorous debate in the AI community.

Regarding the open letter to “pause” research on AI “more powerful than GPT-4,” this criterion is too vague to be practical. And the proposal faces a serious coordination problem: those that agree to a pause may fall far behind corporations or nations that disagree. There are tremendous benefits to advancing AI in critical fields such as medicine and health, education, pursuit of renewable energy sources to replace fossil fuels, and scores of other fields. I didn’t sign, because I believe we can address the signers’ safety concerns in a more tailored way that doesn’t compromise these vital lines of research.

I participated in the Asilomar AI Principles Conference in 2017 and was actively involved in the creation of guidelines to create artificial intelligence in an ethical manner. So I know that safety is a critical issue. But more nuance is needed if we wish to unlock AI’s profound advantages to health and productivity while avoiding the real perils.

— Ray Kurzweil
Inventor, best-selling author, and futurist





Image Credit: DeepMind / Unsplash

Ray Kurzweil
Ray Kurzweil
Ray Kurzweil is one of the world’s leading inventors, thinkers, and futurists, with a thirty-year track record of accurate predictions. Called "the restless genius" by The Wall Street Journal and "the ultimate thinking machine" by Forbes magazine, he was selected as one of the top entrepreneurs by Inc. magazine, which described him as the "rightful heir to Thomas Edison." PBS selected him as one of the "sixteen revolutionaries who made America." Ray was the principal inventor of the first CCD flat-bed scanner, the first omni-font optical character recognition, the first print-to-speech reading machine for the blind, the first text-to-speech synthesizer, the first music synthesizer capable of recreating the grand piano and other orchestral instruments, and the first commercially marketed large-vocabulary speech recognition. Among Ray’s many honors, he received a Grammy Award for outstanding achievements in music technology; he is the recipient of the National Medal of Technology, was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame, holds twenty-one honorary Doctorates, and honors from three U.S. presidents. Ray has written six national best-selling books, including New York Times best sellers The Singularity Is Near (2005) and How To Create A Mind (2012). His latest novel, Danielle: Chronicles of a Superheroine, is an Amazon Best Seller and was a Publisher’s Weekly Top 10 Children’s Fiction book. He is cofounder and chancellor of Singularity University.
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