Eric Schmidt: AI as dangerous as nuclear weapons, international agreements needed

Former Google Chairman and CEO Eric Schmidt compared the dangers of AI technology to nuclear weapons. This is reported by the US magazine Vice. In a debate on national security and artificial intelligence at the Aspen Security Forum, he predicted that the latter would soon need international agreements similar to those used for nuclear weapons testing in the mid-20th century.

At that time, it was agreed not to surprise each other. The growing animosity between the US and China could now see each arming and challenging the other without such a safeguard in place.

What Schmidt fears exactly is not clear from the statements. According to Vice, he described the state of affairs between the nuclear powers after the end of World War II as one without enough trust in the other side. That’s why, with regard to nuclear weapons tests, it was agreed not to take each other by surprise and finally banned them completely.

Although AI technology is so powerful, there is currently nothing like it. For the US magazine, the statements are above all a confirmation that Schmidt cannot correctly assess how powerful so-called artificial intelligence is and what far-reaching restrictions there are. Unlike nuclear weapons, AI cannot destroy the world, it is much more problematic that it is only as good as the people who work on it.

When it comes to AI, the debates are currently about, for example, the supposedly neutral algorithms copying racist behavior. Recently, it was also discussed whether a Google algorithm actually developed consciousness, as one developer claimed. In his assessment, Schmidt points out that in his early days at Google he underestimated the power of information. He probably suggests that something similar shouldn’t happen with AI.

Vice is not convinced and also rejects the comparison to nuclear weapons because the international treaty regime for this was also created against the background of the destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Schmidt is not alone with his warnings, US billionaire Elon Musk even described AI as “much more dangerous than nuclear weapons” in 2018.


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