Former Google CEO, Eric Schmidt has warned that Artificial Intelligence, AI, can be used to kill people in the future.
Schmidt who spent two decades at the helm of the search giant, told a gathering of senior executives on Wednesday that he believes AI presents an 'existential risk' for humanity 'defined as many, many, many, many people harmed or killed.'
The software expert said the technology, which Google is helping spearhead through its relatively primitive Bard chatbot system - could be 'misused by evil people' when it becomes more advanced.
Schmidt, who recently chaired the US National Security Commission on AI, is the latest in a slew of former Google staffers to come out publicly against the rapid development of the technology in recent weeks.
Schmidt focused specifically on AI's burgeoning ability to identify software vulnerabilities for hackers and the tech's inevitable hunting down of new biological pathways, which could lead to the creation of fearsome new bioweapons.
“There are scenarios not today, but reasonably soon, where these systems will be able to find zero-day exploits in cyber issues, or discover new kinds of biology,” Schmidt said before The Wall Street Journal's CEO Council Summit in London.
So-called 'zero-day exploits' are security flaws in code — anywhere from personal computing to digital banking to infrastructure — that have only just been discovered and thus not yet patched up by cybersecurity teams. Zero days are the prized tools in hackers' arsenal.
Schmidt did not go into detail on what 'new kinds of biology' dreamed up by a maliciously run AI worry him most.
'Now, this is fiction today,' Schmidt cautioned, 'but its reasoning is likely to be true. And when that happens, we want to be ready to know how to make sure these things are not misused by evil people.'
Schmidt's comments, which are not his first warnings, join a raucous debate across Silicon Valley over the moral questions and mortal dangers posed by AI.
Elon Musk, Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak and the late Stephen Hawking are among the most famous critics of AI who believe it poses a 'profound risk to society and humanity' and could have 'catastrophic effects'.
Earlier this spring, the 'Godfather of Artificial Intelligence’, Geoffrey Hinton, sensationally resigned from Google, warning that AI technology could upend life as we know it.
Speaking to the New York Times about his resignation, he warned that in the near future, A.I. would flood the internet with false photos, videos and texts.
These would be of a standard, he added, where the average person would 'not be able to know what is true anymore'.
But Bill Gates, My Pichai and futurist Ray Kurzweil are on the other side of the debate, hailing the technology as our time's 'most important' innovation.