“A Right to Warn about Advanced Artificial Intelligence.”

A group of current and former employees at tech giants OpenAI and Google DeepMind have published an open letter warning about the dangers of advanced AI and emphasizing how companies are muzzling the employees who bear witness to their irresponsible practices.

Published on June 4th, it highlighted the “serious risks posed by these technologies“, which ranged from the entrenchment of existing inequalities, manipulation and misinformation, and the loss of control of autonomous AI systems that could potentially result in human extinction. “AI companies themselves have acknowledged these risks, as have governments across the world and other AI experts,” the letter pointed out.

The employees said that they are “hopeful” that these risks can be mitigated with sufficient guidance and effort from scientists, policymakers and the public. However, they claimed that AI companies have “strong financial incentives to avoid effective oversight” over such changes.

The letter also highlighted that AI companies are holding back information from governments and the public. “AI companies possess substantial non-public information about the capabilities and limitations of their systems, the adequacy of their protective measures, and the risk levels of different kinds of harm,” they wrote. “However, they currently have only weak obligations to share some of this information with governments, and none with civil society. We do not think they can all be relied upon to share it voluntarily.”

The letter calls for all AI companies to commit to not punishing employees who speak out about their activities, and to establish “verifiable” ways for workers to provide anonymous feedback on their activities.

“Ordinary whistleblower protections are insufficient because they focus on illegal activity, whereas many of the risks we are concerned about are not yet regulated,” the letter reads. “Some of us reasonably fear various forms of retaliation, given the history of such cases across the industry.”

The letter was signed by 13 individuals, including former OpenAI employees, anonymous current employees, and two from Google’s DeepMind. It is also supported by pioneering AI scientists Yoshua Bengio, Geoffrey Hinton, and Stuart Russell, who have warned about the existential risks of future AI systems.

Read the full open letter here.