A technology expert says 2023 will be remembered for its cautious approach to artificial intelligence.

Byron Reese, tech entrepreneur and author of “The Fourth Age: Smart Robots, Conscious Computers, and the Future of Humanity,” said this year had “a lot more fear around it than hope” when it came to AI.

“A lot of it is around potential job loss and I think that's natural in a way, because it's always easy to see what (technology’s) going to destroy, but nobody has the imagination to see what it's going to create,” he told BNN Bloomberg in a television interview Monday.

JOB-LOSS FEARS

Artificial intelligence has been a sticking point in labour negotiations this year, with Hollywood writers’ and actors’ unions fighting for guardrails around the use of AI in entertainment.

Google recently allied with the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organization to discuss how AI would impact workers.

“Nobody knows what's going to happen with it. Nobody knows,” Reese said. “That is very frightening to people, not being able to see into the future, but of course, it's always like that. I think we see that playing out on the corporate side, as well as the technology side.”

Reese doesn’t buy the argument that AI will replace workers.

“These top tools don't really replace people as much as make them more productive,” he said, adding that he does not think AI will lead to disproportionate job loss numbers.

“I think we lose half of all jobs every 50 years,” he said. “That's been going on for 250 years and I don't think this is any more or less.”

BALANCING RISKS

AI fear is also playing out within companies developing the technology itself.

Last month, AI firm ChatGPT fired its CEO Sam Altman after he clashed with the board over the company’s future and the potential harms of AI. He was eventually rehired.

Governments are also looking closely at AI. Last week, the European Union reached a deal to regulate artificial intelligence and could fine companies 35 million Euros for violating the rules, most notably when it comes to facial recognition and biometric identification tools.

Canada has laid out guidelines for AI developers to help mitigate risks with a voluntary code of conduct for the industry.

“I think everything's all of a sudden gotten real and people are looking at it,” Reese said.

With files from Bloomberg News