Emmett Shear, the man slated to be the new interim CEO of OpenAI, believes artificial intelligence has a very real potential to destroy all life.
Shear describes himself as a “techno-optimist,” or someone who believes that rapid advancement technology produces more upside than downside.
But in an interview in June with seed funding investor Logan Bartlett, Shear said it’s possible AI can eventually become so sophisticated that it can improve upon itself without input from humans.
“That loop will get tighter and tighter and tighter, and faster and faster and faster, until it can fully self-improve itself. At which point, it will get very fast, very quickly,” said Shear.
“And that kind of intelligence is just an intrinsically very dangerous thing,” he added. “Because intelligence is power.”
It’s a fear that’s been echoed across the tech space — that AI can develop itself so rapidly that it becomes impossible to control.
There’s a 5 to 50% probability that this could actually play out, Shear told Bartlett, though he said there was still “uncertainty” around such estimates.
“That should cause you to shit your pants,” Shear said.
An AI doomsday scenario would be “like a universe-destroying bomb” that wipes out all life, Shear said.
“It’s like someone who invented a way to make like 10x more powerful fusion bombs out of sand and bleach that like anyone could do at home,” Shear said.
In another interview in September, Shear told podcast host and entrepreneur Shaan Puri that it was his optimism toward AI that made him fear its capabilities.
“Imagine the most savvy, smartest person you can think of, and then make them think faster and also make them even better at it, and not smart in just one way but everything,” Shear said. “A great writer, insight after insight.”
“If that person isn’t a good person, then they’re obviously dangerous,” he added.
Doomsday fears are a sentiment shared by Sam Altman, Shear’s predecessor. Altman has previously warned that AI will take over many jobs, and in February, he warned that the world might not be far from “potentially scary” AI tools.
In May, Altman was among the group of AI experts and CEOs who collectively signed a letter expressing their concerns about AI.
“Mitigating the risk of extinction from AI should be a global priority alongside other societal-scale risks such as pandemics and nuclear war,” their jointly signed statement reads.
Altman was the face of OpenAI when it debuted its generative AI programs Dall-E 2 and ChatGPT in 2022. He was ousted from the CEO position on Friday as his company’s board said he was “not consistently candid in his communications,” giving no further details.
OpenAI investors, shocked by the sudden move, lobbied to have Altman reinstated, but Shear was chosen to replace him instead, The Information first reported.
Shear is the cofounder of the streaming platform Twitch, and invests through the venture capital firm Y Combinator.
Apart from concerns that AI could destroy all life, Shear thinks it’s too early for regulation when it comes to concerns of AI disrupting industries or enforcing discrimination.
“There probably will be a good regulation to write, we don’t know what it looks like. The area is evolving so fast, it’s very hard to write good regulation,” he told Bartlett.
Shear and OpenAI did not immediately respond to requests for comment from Business Insider sent outside regular business hours.
The post Emmett Shear, OpenAI’s new interim CEO, shares Sam Altman’s worry that AI could destroy all life appeared first on Business Insider.