Telefonica chief latest to sound generative AI warning

President and CEO of Telefonica Jose Maria Alvarez-Pallete (pictured) became the latest senior figure to raise concerns around future developments in generative AI (GenAI), an area of technology enjoying an explosion of interest and publicity so far in 2023.

In a blog the executive, who also chairs the GSMA, highlighted existential risks associated with developments of an out-of-control GenAI model, along with a need to be people-centric within technology development.

Although acknowledging  the potential of the platforms to “exponentially” enhance humanity, he warned “as has already happened in previous technological revolutions, we cannot let it get out of hand. Not everything that technology is capable of doing is necessarily good or socially acceptable”.

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“A runaway or power-hungry GenAI is an existential risk” Alvarez-Pallete added, noting the potential of the technology to play a role in developments harmful to humans either biologically or socially with “mass campaigns of systematic and undetectable disinformation”.

“The very companies that develop GenAI do so without knowing how to stop the process when GenAI acquires a degree of unrestrained autonomy,” he cautioned.

Alvarez-Pallete’s comments follow calls for a pause on developments in the field by a number of high profile names in the technology sector last month, with platforms including ChatGPT also catching the attention of regulators in recent weeks.