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Former Google CEO Rejects AI Research Pause Over China Fears

Putting a temporary pause on artificial intelligence development would only hand an advantage to competitors in China, former Google CEO Eric Schmidt said.

By: BLOOMBERG
Updated on: Apr 09 2023, 10:40 IST
Former Google CEO Rejects AI Research Pause Over China Fears. (Reuters)
Former Google CEO Rejects AI Research Pause Over China Fears. (Reuters)

Putting a temporary pause on artificial intelligence development would only hand an advantage to competitors in China, former Google CEO Eric Schmidt said, after more than 1,000 researchers signed a letter warning of the consequences of moving too quickly on AI research.

Speaking to the Australian Financial Review in an interview published Friday, Schmidt said there were legitimate concerns about the speed of research into AI but they should be mitigated by tech companies working together to set standards.

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In the past week, more than 1,000 researchers and executives, including Tesla Inc. Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk, signed an open letter published by the Future of Life Institute, which called for an AI research pause of “at least six months,” warning of “potentially catastrophic effects” on society if appropriate governance wasn’t put in place.

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“Recent months have seen AI labs locked in an out-of-control race to develop and deploy ever more powerful digital minds that no one – not even their creators – can understand, predict, or reliably control,” the letter said.

But Schmidt said he wasn’t in favor of the six-month pause as it would “simply benefit China. ”

“What I am in favor of is getting everyone together ASAP to discuss what are the appropriate guardrails,” he said.

During the past week, Australia has moved to ban TikTok from government phones, while several state leaders have said they will stop using the Chinese-owned social media app.

Schmidt said he wasn’t in favor of the recent bans on TikTok imposed by the US, the UK and Australia, but added Western governments needed to move more quickly to keep up with Chinese research and development.

“China is very smart, they know what they are doing. We need to get our act together,” he said.

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First Published Date: 09 Apr, 10:40 IST

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