Google CEO Sundar Pichai says AI fears are ‘very legitimate’

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Google CEO Sundar Pichai said last week that concerns about harmful applications of artificial intelligence are “very legitimate.”

In a Washington Post interview, Pichai said that AI tools will need ethical guardrails and will require companies to think deeply about how technology can be abused.

“I think tech has to realize it just can’t build it and then fix it,” Pichai, fresh from his testimony before House lawmakers, said. “I think that doesn’t work.”

Tech giants have to ensure artificial intelligence with “agency of its own” doesn’t harm humankind, Pichai noted.

The tech executive, who runs a company that uses AI in many of its products, including its powerful search engine, said he is optimistic about the technology’s long-term benefits, but his assessment of AI’s potential downsides parallels that of critics who have warned about the potential for misuse and abuse.

Advocates and technologists have been warning about the power of AI to embolden authoritarian regimes, empower mass surveillance and spread misinformation, among other possibilities.

SpaceX and Tesla founder Elon Musk once said that AI could prove to be “far more dangerous than nukes.”

Google’s work on Project Maven, a military AI program, sparked a protest from its employees and led the tech giant to announce that it won’t continue the work when the contract expires in 2019.

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