Geoffrey Hinton’s AI fears, and decoding our thoughts

Geoffrey Hinton is a pioneer of deep learning who helped develop some of the most important techniques at the heart of modern artificial intelligence. But after a decade at Google, he is stepping down to focus on new concerns he now has about AI.

Stunned by the capabilities of new large language models like GPT-4, Hinton wants to raise public awareness of the serious risks that he now believes may accompany the technology he ushered in.

Will Douglas Heaven, our senior AI editor, sat down with Hinton at his north London home just four days before the bombshell announcement of his departure. Hinton explained his belief that machines are on track to be a lot smarter than he thought they’d be —and why he’s scared about how that might play out. Read the full story.

Keep ahead of everything you need to know about AI by signing up to The AlgorithmMIT Technology Review’s weekly AI newsletter. Read the latest issuewhich is all about the importance of bringing consent to AI.

Brain scans can translate a person’s thoughts into words

What’s happened: A noninvasive brain-computer interface capable of converting a person’s thoughts into words could one day help people who have lost the ability to speak as a result of injuries like strokes or conditions including ALS.

How they did it: In a new study, published in Nature Neuroscience, a model trained on functional magnetic resonance imaging scans of three volunteers was able to predict whole sentences they were hearing with surprising accuracy—just by looking at their brain activity.

Why it matters: The experiment raises ethical issues around the possible future use of brain decoders for surveillance and interrogation, demonstrating the need for future policies to protect our brain data. Read the full story.

—Rhiannon Williams

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