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Big Tech Is Big Tobacco

May 4, 2023 David Sirota
When it comes to the dangers of AI, the Peter Isherwells are using cigarette-makers’ old strategy.
Big Tech Is Big Tobacco
Peter Isherwell from Don’t Look Up

Artificial intelligence has a lot of potentially huge upsides, but it is also big and scary because it could get out of control and possibly end all human life, according to some scientists. And so naturally the tech companies that stand to make bank off the menace are aping one of the original big and scary industries: Big Tobacco.

That’s the thrust of a recent study flagged for me by Dr. Max Tegmark after our fascinating and terrifying Lever Timediscussion about his dire AI warnings that have been making headlines across the planet.

Tegmark likens the situation to the plot of Don’t Look Up, in which experts tout the benefits of the incoming comet rather than sounding the alarm about its dangers. The 2021 paper he sent me offers some answers about why: It shows how Big Tech’s has infiltrated the academic institutions studying and often promoting AI — with little regard for the potentially catastrophic downsides.

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