Sundar Pichai: AI keeps me up at night

Sundar Pichai AI - Alphabet and Google CEO
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Google CEO Sundar Pichai has admitted that potential AI-related harms are a serious cause for concern and “keep him up at night”. 

Pichai’s comments came in an interview with CBS’ 60 Minutes program in which the broadcaster delved into the ongoing work to develop AI systems at the tech giant. 

Pichai said the rollout of generative AI systems will have a profound impact on society, noting that ‘knowledge workers’ such as software developers, accountants, and writers, could be among the most at-risk professions due to automation. 

“This is going to impact every product across every company,” he said. “So that’s why I think it’s a very profound technology. AI will impact everything.”

When asked about the risks AI poses to society, Pichai warned that the current pace of development does raise concerns. 

Google has been locked in a battle with Microsoft in recent months, with both tech giants rolling out generative AI systems to support core product offerings.

‘Bard’, Google’s generative AI system, launched in February and has been positioned as a key competitor to OpenAI’s ChatGPT system, which Microsoft has been integrating across a number of services, such as its Azure cloud division. 

“If deployed wrongly, it could be very harmful,” he said. “The technology is moving fast. Does that keep me up at night? Absolutely.”

Aligning AI regulation

Pichai insisted that the development of new systems must be matched by regulatory safeguards to mitigate adverse effects. 

He noted, however, that the future of AI development and regulation should not be placed in the hands of a singular organization or group. 

“It’s not for a company to decide,” he told the program. “This is why I think the development of this [AI] needs to include not just engineers, but social scientists, ethicists, philosophers, and so on."


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“I think we have to be very thoughtful and I think these are all things society needs to move along.”

Pichai’s comments on AI regulation follow a controversial open letter published last month calling for an “immediate pause” to AI development

The letter, signed by an array of tech pioneers, was published amid concerns that adequate regulatory safeguards were not currently in place to ensure systems would not cause societal problems. 

It warned that AI development is “out of control” and demanded a six-month pause so international regulators can respond to the pace of innovation. 

Lawmakers on both sides of the Atlantic have been exploring potential approaches to AI regulation in recent months.

Last week, the US National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) announced plans to explore “accountability measures” for companies developing AI systems. 

The NTIA said it will launch a public consultation on AI products and services in a move that could help shape the Biden administration’s approach to federal regulations. 

Ross Kelly
News and Analysis Editor

Ross Kelly is ITPro's News & Analysis Editor, responsible for leading the brand's news output and in-depth reporting on the latest stories from across the business technology landscape. Ross was previously a Staff Writer, during which time he developed a keen interest in cyber security, business leadership, and emerging technologies.

He graduated from Edinburgh Napier University in 2016 with a BA (Hons) in Journalism, and joined ITPro in 2022 after four years working in technology conference research.

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