AI: We Need a Time Out


Earth’s most progressive minds call for a time out on development of artificial intelligence.

We are living in a very interesting time. The technology that humans are creating has the potential to greatly impact the future of civilization as we know it. 

One of the most dominant companies in the development of artificial intelligence, OpenAI, recently released the newest version of its AI platform, which is called GPT4. This is a language model program that has been trained by humans and now has the capability of what many describe as “thinking.” The program can perform many tasks including writing, computer programming, and test taking, more efficiently than most humans can. In response to this, the Future of Life Institute, a nonprofit organization that works to mitigate disastrous risks facing humanity, published a letter on March 22nd requesting a six month pause on development of new AI. This letter was signed by over 20,000 people, including multiple computer science specialists, most notably Elon Musk and cofounder of Apple, Steve Wozniak. With this time, it is hoped that our leaders in computer science will grasp where humans are going with this new technology, and address several concerns about the negative impacts that advanced AI could have on the future of our society.

At the forefront of Future of Life Institute’s concerns is the possibility of AI technology taking over a variety of human jobs. Artificial intelligence can effectively accomplish computer programing, writing, and customer service at a level equal to or better than the average human. Unlike humans, AI can work all day, every day, without break or pay. It is extremely efficient and outperforms humans in many cases. With newer, more advanced technology constantly in development, many are beginning to wonder how this will affect people in all fields of work, and question whether or not AI will eventually take job opportunities away from humans. If this happens it could result in a disastrous cascade of effects for the economy.

When asked about this concern, San Marcos computer science teacher Ms. Ary said, “If allowed, I believe that AI will take job opportunities from humans much the same as mechanization took jobs away from humans during the industrial revolution. To some extent that is inevitable. However, a pause in AI development will allow policymakers to find a way to soften or insulate us from at least part of the negative impacts of this inevitability.”

Countless science fiction movies center around the idea of computers taking over society. However, with new, extremely advanced AI being developed, the possibility of this fictional plot becoming a reality seems dangerously high. Computers are much more efficient than humans, and they are all connected to each other via the internet. Recent creation of new, extremely advanced technology has sparked the concern that computers could unite and take action against humans. Artificial intelligence influences human decisions by controlling our social media platforms. Instagram, Tik Tok, and Twitter are three examples of commonly used social media platforms that could utilize artificial intelligence to control the human decision making process. From what we buy, to which politicians we vote for, we are extremely vulnerable to our technology. The Future of Life Institute recognizes this growing concern and has projected the idea that this exponential growth in technology advancements could lead to a catastrophic takeover of human civilization by our computers. 

If humans create something that can think by itself, by our own definition, it is conscious, and therefore, alive. If we have created something that is conscious, we must evaluate our relationship before moving forward with new AI development. Do we have the right to just “turn it on and off”? Can we delete a computer program that has consciousness? Many people have started to question whether or not artificial intelligence is conscious, and the Future of Life Institute hopes this pause in AI development gives experts adequate time to decipher this issue. There are a lot of questions that must be addressed before we allow this technology to advance.

While many are anticipating the release of Chat GPT5, the Future of Life Institute is taking a necessary step to protect humanity from problems that could arise from rapid and irresponsible AI development. 

On the topic of safety, Ms. Ary added, “I think that the most important item in the open letter is the emphasis on using this pause to work on safety and protocols. I am forced to recall the line from Jurassic Park: ‘your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could that they didn’t stop to think if they should.’ This letter is asking that we slow down and not treat this new technology like an arms race. We need to carefully consider the consequences before rushing forward into this unknown future.”

During these next six months, computer science specialists need to evaluate the technology that we have created and consider what the safest path forward into the future looks like.