Researchers and industry leaders have warned that A.I. could pose an existential risk to humanity. But they’ve been light on the details.

Cade Metz has spent years covering the realities and myths of A.I.

June 10, 2023, 5:00 a.m. ET

Last month, hundreds of well-known people in the world of artificial intelligence signed an open letter warning that A.I. could one day destroy humanity.

“Mitigating the risk of extinction from A.I. should be a global priority alongside other societal-scale risks, such as pandemics and nuclear war,” the one-sentence statement said.

The letter was the latest in a series of ominous warnings about A.I. that have been notably light on details. Today’s A.I. systems cannot destroy humanity. Some of them can barely add and subtract. So why are the people who know the most about A.I. so worried?

The scary scenario.

One day, the tech industry’s Cassandras say, companies, governments or independent researchers could deploy powerful A.I. systems to handle…

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