AI godfather proffers solution to job threats

Onwubuke Melvin
Onwubuke Melvin

AI ‘godfather’ Geoffrey Hinton calls for adoption of universal basic income

The computer scientist regarded as the “godfather of artificial intelligence” has said the British government will have to set up a universal basic income to deal with the effect of AI on inequality.

The neural networks that are the basis of artificial intelligence were pioneered by Hinton, according to BBC.

He said, “I’m very worried about AI taking lots of mundane jobs.”

He said the solution would be to give everyone a universal income.

“I was consulted by people in Downing Street,” he said. “I advised them that universal basic income was a good idea.”

Universal basic income is a monthly cash payment to all adults in a given population, regardless of their wealth or employment status, without any restrictions on how they spend the money.

This is becoming a critical topic among AI researchers, futurists, and industry leaders as a way to mitigate AI’s economic impact.

In countries such as South Africa, Kenya, and India, the idea is also gaining attention as a way to tackle poverty. In the US, several cities and some states have been experimenting with guaranteed basic incomes, which do not attach strings attached to monthly payments, but to a targeted group of people.

According to Hinton, AI will increase productivity and generate more wealth. But it would only make the rich richer and hurt the people who might lose their jobs if the government did not intervene.

“That’s going to be very bad for society,” he said.

Hinton is calling for a more cautious approach to AI development, saying it could be an “extinction-level threat” to humans within the next five to 20 years.

Even those calling for more aggressive development believe governments should consider some sort of recurring payment to redistribute wealth.

Open AI’s CEO Sam Altman, who is in the process of developing artificial general intelligence, runs an experiment on a universal basic income that he expects to publish soon.

He also recently floated the idea of a “universal basic compute.” Instead of receiving cash, everyone could receive a slice of a future large language model like GPT-7, he said.

“They can use it, they can resell it, they can donate it to somebody to use for cancer research,” Altman said.

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