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North Korea Says Launch Of First Spy Satellite Fails; U.S. Military: Plane Was Conduction "Safe And Routine Operations" In International Airspace At Time Of Chinese Intercept; Russia Blames Ukraine For "Terrorist" Drone Attack; Kosovo Prime Minister Says Country Facing "Mob Of Extremists"; Sudan Warring Factions Agree To Extend Ceasefire By Five Days; Outrage In India After Teen Girl Stabbed To Death In Public; Outrage in India after Teen Girl Stabbed to Death in Public; Attorney: Van Der Sloot Involved in Peru Prison Fight; Dozens of A.I. Leaders Warn of Human Extinction Risk. Aired 12- 12:45a ET

Aired May 31, 2023 - 00:00   ET




ANNA COREN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hello, I'm Anna Coren live from Hong Kong. Ahead on at CNN NEWSROOM.

Air raid siren sound in Japan and South Korea after North Korea tries and fails to launch a satellite into space.

Vladimir Putin accuses Ukraine of trying to kill Russian civilians even as his military continues to pound residential targets across its border.

And leaders in artificial intelligence is sounding the alarm early, warning of the potential for global annihilation if their technology is left unchecked.

After weeks of hype, preparation and international concern, North Korea says its attempt to launch its first military spy satellite has failed. State media reports the missile carrying the satellite malfunctioned during the second stage of launch and crashed into the sea.

Well, South Korea says this is a piece of it. Pyongyang says its national space agency will investigate the failure urgently and attempt another launch soon.

The launch early Wednesday morning jolted South Korea as air raid sirens blasted in the capital Seoul.

The situation was similar in Japan where authorities issued emergency alerts for the southern island of Okinawa and urged residents to take shelter.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) HIROKAZU MATSUNO, JAPANESE GOVERNMENT SPOKESMAN (through translator): North Korea's continued actions threaten the safety and security of our country, the region and the international community. This kind of ballistic missile launch violates U.N. Security Council resolution. Our country has lodged a complaint against North Korea through diplomatic channels in Beijing.


COREN: For the latest, let's go to CNN's Paula Hancocks live in Seoul. And Paula, it must have been a shock for you and the family to wake up to these air raid sirens, what is the latest information that you have?

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anna, the latest information we have is there was some confusion as those air raid sirens went on to just after 6:30 a.m. followed by an emergency alert, a presidential alert by text message. And shortly after that, another alert to say that it had gone out in error.

So, there was unnecessary confusion here in Seoul, certainly. But what we saw in Okinawa was there was an alert there as well, because that is where they believed that the flight path would be for this attempt by North Korea to put a satellite into space.

Now, what we have heard from North Korea so far is that it was a failure. They say that it did fail, it lost propulsion due to an issue in the startup of the engine of the second stage.

So, what that leads us to believe is the first stage at least was successful. They had problems with the second stage. And clearly, they will have learned something even from this failure.

Now, South Korea's military say that they have retrieved what they believe to be some of the debris from that rocket. They have retrieved it from the water off the west coast of South Korea, and they will be investigating that very closely as you can imagine.

Now, it has been widely condemned. It was condemned before it happened as North Korea had given us warning they had said to the Japan's Coast Guard that between May 31st And June 11th, they would be trying to put a military satellite into space. And there had been a warning from the Japanese side for ships in the area due to any potential falling debris.

Now, they have decided to do it at the beginning of that window but what we have heard from North Korea is that they are going to try it again as soon as possible.

So, we don't know if they have another rocket that is ready to put another satellite potentially into orbit but certainly, from the North Korean side, they intend to do this again quickly, which is what they have said through their state run media KCNA.

The U.S. has condemned what has happened, saying that it risks destabilizing the region. Japan, South Korea and the U.S. all saying that it violates U.N. Security Council resolutions which bans North Korea from using this ballistic missile technology.


But from North Korea side, they say it is necessary. They believe that they need military satellites to be able to monitor and to track what they call is the dangerous military act of the United States.

So, as we have heard many times before, Pyongyang says they need to carry this out because of U.S. South Korean military drills that are ongoing at this point and because they feel threatened but certainly, a very different story from the other side. It is -- it is being widely condemned, Anna.

COREN: Paula Hancocks joining us from Seoul. Many thanks, hope you girls weren't too rattled by the air raid sirens. Good to see you.

Well, tensions between the U.S. and China are rising again after a Chinese fighter jet intercepted an American spy plane over the South China Sea with what the U.S. is calling an unnecessarily aggressive maneuver.

Our Kristie Lu Stout joins us here in Hong Kong. And Kristie, this happened in international airspace. Please walk us through what happened and how Beijing is responding.

KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, Anna. Well, the United States is accusing China of a risky encounter over the South China Sea on Tuesday, we heard from the U.S. military. They said that a Chinese military plan engaged in what it called an unnecessarily aggressive maneuver involving a U.S. military plane above the South China Sea in international waters. This incident took place last week on May the 26th and video of this encounter has been released, let's bring up the video for you.

And this video which was filmed from the cockpit of the U.S. surveillance plane. This is U.S. RC-135. It shows the J-16, the Chinese plane there, flying, making that move from right to left and then it makes a move that suddenly cuts in front of the U.S. military plane and then, you can see it there on the screen, the U.S. plane visibly shakes as a result of the wake turbulence that was generated by that maneuver.

Now, the U.S. Indo-Pacific command said that the plane was conducting, you know, safe and routine operations. It also added this in a statement. Let's bring it up for you, "The United States will continue to fly, sail and operate safely and responsibly wherever international law allows and the U.S. Indo-Pacific Joint Force will continue to fly in international airspace with due regard for the safety of all vessels and aircraft under international law".

The spokesperson for China's embassy in Washington D.C. later responded to that U.S. military statement, let's bring up what the spokesperson said. And according to Liu Pengyu, he said, "China urges the U.S. to stop such dangerous provocations and stop deflecting blame on China". Now, this encounter, which again took place last week on May the 26th

according to the U.S. military, it follows what the U.S. calls a trend of increasingly risky behavior being conducted by Chinese military planes and involving U.S. military aircraft. It was in December when one Chinese military plane flew just within three meters or about 10 feet of a U.S. military plane which forced that plane to engage in invasive maneuvers.

And this encounter, it also comes as tensions continue to simmer between the U.S. and China over a whole raft of issues from access to sensitive technology like A.I. and chips to Taiwan to of course, territorial disputes in the South China Sea, Anna.

COREN: Yes, that footage certainly show that aircrafts are very close. Kristie Lu Stout joining us -- yes, exactly. Great to see you. Appreciate the update.

STOUT: Thank you.

COREN: The war in Ukraine may be moving in a new direction with the latest chapter written on Russian soil. The foreign ministry is vowing severe retaliation after a drone attack on Moscow. Without a hint of irony, Russian President Vladimir Putin is condemning what he calls a terrorist attack targeting civilians. CNN's Sam Kiley has our report.


SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Same war, different capital, Moscow hit by a squadron of eight drones.

PAVEL BOZHGO, MOSCOW RESIDENT (through translator): There was a deafening bang, as if a huge bolt of lightning had struck somewhere near.

KILEY (voice over): The attack was immediately blamed on Ukraine, which reels daily from Russian air assaults.

SERGEI SHOIGU, RUSSIAN DEFENSE MINISTER (through translator): This morning the key of regime carried out a terrorist attack on the Moscow region and I will stress aimed at civilian targets. In total, eight airplane type drones were used. All of them were brought down.

KILEY (voice over): Kyiv was coy about its role in this drastic escalation.

MYKHAILO PODOLYAK, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENTIAL ADVISER (through translator): Of course, we enjoy watching and predicting an increase in attacks, but of course, we have nothing to do directly with it. What is growing in Russia is the karmic payment that Russia will gradually pay more highly for everything it does in Ukraine.


KILEY (voice over): Ukraine is threatening and offensive to drive Russian troops out and part of its tactics have been increased efforts to destabilize Moscow's forces. Across border raid by anti-Putin, Russian dissidents was backed by

Ukraine last week, frequent attacks on Russian occupied logistic hubs like Mariupol and Berdyansk. And now, there's a mysterious drone attack that Russia has blamed on Ukraine.

VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): Though I'm more worried not by this, but by efforts to provoke a Russian response, that appears to be the aim. They are provoking us to do the same.

KILEY (voice over): But this is the first drone attack by anyone on Moscow outside the Kremlin. Here, Kyiv attacked for the 17th time this month.

Putin's generals now know that they face attacks on Ukraine's front lines and at home.

Sam Kiley, CNN, eastern Ukraine.


COREN: The drone attacks on Moscow and others inside Russia are raising concerns among Western leaders, especially now that Ukraine is getting longer range weapons that could hit targets within Russia's borders.

But the British foreign secretary called it a matter of self-defense.


JAMES CLEVERLY, BRITISH FOREIGN SECRETARY: Ukraine does have the legitimate right to defend itself. It has the legitimate right to do so within its own borders, of course, but it does also have the right to project force beyond its borders, to undermine Russia's ability to project force into Ukraine itself.


COREN: In Washington, the White House press secretary had a much different reaction.


KARINE JEAN-PIERRE, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: We do not support attacks inside of Russia. That's it, period.

I mean, that's -- I cannot be any more clear than what I just stated. We do not support attacks inside of Russia, period.

We've been very clear about that. That's been a general matter that you have heard from us over and over again this past several months. And I cannot be more clearer than that.


COREN: We're joined now by CNN Military Analyst Wesley Clark, who is a retired U.S. General, a former NATO Supreme Allied Commander, and the founder of Renew America Together. General, great to have you with us.

Let's start with the drone strikes in Moscow, obviously, minimal physical damage, but I presume the psychological impact was quite significant, talk us through that.

GEN. WESLEY CLARK (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: I think it was a significant psychological impact. And it's only natural that Ukraine having been pounded by Russia for over a year with many civilian casualties, would want to take the war back to Moscow.

This is what happened in World War II, Hitler bombed London, it took London a while but eventually, British bombers were over Berlin. So, this is the way it works in war. Putin started it and he's going to live with the consequences.

COREN: An advisor to Ukrainian President Zelenskyy says that Ukraine was not directly involved in these drone attacks. Do you believe him? And where would these drones have come from?

CLARK: Well, they could have come from anywhere. We have to take up President Zelenskyy at his word, he's the head of state. If he says Ukraine didn't do it. Fine. He's not accepting responsibility for it. But that's Mr. Putin's problem really.

COREN: Could these attacks come from within Russia?

CLARK: It's possible it could have come from within Russia. It's possible that Russian militants who are opposed to Moscow could have moved in, found launching sites, brought the drones in by hand or by truck and launched them inside Moscow or inside, at least, or near Moscow in Russia and airspace. Yes.

COREN: General, what does this say about the Russian air defenses? Their radars are designed to detect aircraft and missiles, not drones.

CLARK: Well, we know they've got a good air defense system, at least against aircraft and missiles. We've watched it as it's developed over many years. We know it's been further activated by Mr. Putin and reinforced. It's not going to pick up every drone, that's the nature of drone warfare. Some are going to get through.

COREN: And how do you believe that Russia will respond?

CLARK: Well, I think it's using its response already by these attacks, even daylight attacks against Kyiv. I expect those to continue.

And whether they're designed to intimidate Ukraine, punish Ukrainian citizens or simply exhaust Ukraine's air defense arsenal, we don't know at this point, but we have to expect more of that to come.


COREN: General Clark, just one final question. The White House has been adamant that it does not want its military equipment to be used on attacks inside Russian territory. We heard from the British Foreign Secretary a little bit earlier and he seems to be at odds on this stance. How do you see this playing out? And could it lead to, I guess, a further escalation in this war?

CLARK: Well, I think it's a normal thing that there will be some action behind Russian alliance, that Russia is not entitled to a sanctuary. Russia is an aggressor nation. And whether those were Ukrainians or Russian militants, Special Forces or some other organization. We don't know at this point, but it's really not relevant to the question.

What's important is to say that Russia is feeling some consequences for its unprovoked aggression against Ukraine. And I suspect those consequences are going to go up.

COREN: General Wesley Clark, pleasure to have you on the program. We thank you for your time and your insight.

CLARK: Thank you.

COREN: Just ahead, NATO is sending more peacekeeping forces to Kosovo after clashes with Serbian protesters. We'll have the latest, next.

Plus, a grim assessment from UNICEF on the plight of millions of children from war torn Sudan. We'll have the details as fighting enters its seventh week.


COREN: NATO is deploying hundreds of additional forces to Kosovo following Monday's clashes with Serbian protesters in the northern part of the country. A NATO commander called the deployment of forces to Kosovo, a prudent measure that would ensure NATO's Kosovo force known as KFOR would have the capabilities to maintain security.

30 NATO peacekeepers in the Kosovo force were injured during Monday's clashes. Kosovo's prime minister condemned the protesters telling CNN he would not surrender his country to what he called a fascist militia.


ALBIN KURTI, KOSOVO PRIME MINISTER: We are facing not peaceful protesters. We're facing a mob of extremists. We're facing ultra nationalist right wingers who are being paid and ordered from Belgrade and who admire despotic President Putin.


COREN: Meantime, Serbia's president is expressing concern for the survival and security of Serbs in Kosovo.

Monday's clashes took place in the northern part of Kosovo, which is a majority Kosovo Serb area. Officials from the U.S., NATO and the European Union condemned the violence against NATO peacekeepers, and called on both sides to deescalate tensions.



JOSEP BORRELL, E.U. FOREIGN POLICY CHIEF: There has been too much violence. We have too much violence in Europe already today. We cannot afford another conflict.


COREN: For more on this story, here is Barbie Nadeau.


BARBIE NADEAU, CNN CONTRIBUTOR (voice over): A flare up on a tinderbox. More than 30 NATO peacekeepers injured in clashes with Serb protesters in northern Kosovo Monday. Among them, several Italians and Hungarians.

NATO has condemned the attacks, saying they were, "totally unacceptable".

The peacekeepers known as KFOR have been present in this volatile region since 1999 in response to brutal ethnic cleansing of Albanians.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The U.N. Security Council passed a resolution.

NADEAU (voice over): The United Nations Security Council resolution paved the way for Kosovo's independence from Serbia, with NATO protecting the uneasy transition.

Kosovo declared its independence from Serbia in 2008, where the ethnic Albanian majority took over the country. But Serbia did not recognize Kosovo as a sovereign nation, nor do ethnic Serbs who live in the north of the country where Monday's violence sparked. Nor does Russia which has strongly backed Serbia over Kosovo.

The latest tension comes after ethnic Serbs boycotted an election in the northern part of Kosovo in April, leading to ethnic Albanians governing the region. Serbia claims the Kosovo government is goading Serbs to clash with NATO.

ALEKSANDAR VUCIC, SERBIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): I am urging the Serbs in Kosovo not to get into a conflict with NATO, not because I'm afraid, because any of us are afraid, none of us personally had anything to lose, because that's what Kosovo's prime minister wants most.

NADEAU (voice over): As peacekeepers stand guard inspection today, whether the protesters here listen could determine whether relative peace returns to the region, or if Europe has another conflict on the horizon.

Barbie Latza Nadeau, CNN, Rome.


COREN: Sudan's two warring sides have agreed to extend a shaky ceasefire for another five days to allow the delivery of humanitarian aid.

Saudi Arabia says the Sudanese army and Paramilitary Rapid Support Forces also have agreed to discuss a longer term truce. It comes as almost seven weeks of fighting have killed hundreds and displaced millions of Sudanese.

UNICEF says more than 13 million children in the country urgently need lifesaving support.

CNN's David McKenzie has more.


DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: These are the images coming from Jeddah in Saudi Arabia are the representatives of the warring factions of Sudan, extending a ceasefire for five days to allow humanitarian aid to get into the country.

Now, these talks are brokered by the Saudis and the Americans. But even they say that the multiple ceasefires over several weeks have shown no signs of actually holding without fighting in many parts of Sudan, and the toll is largely on the civilian population in Sudan.

UNICEF, the U.N. children's agency, saying more than 13 million children need desperate lifesaving support now in Sudan, and because of the ongoing fighting and the lack of a protracted ceasefire, it's very difficult to get that in. Here's the chief spokesperson of UNICEF.

JAMES ELDER, SPOKESPERSON, UNICEF: On the back of conflict, chaos, neglect, more children today in Sudan require lifesaving support than ever before. So, we now have a staggering or sobering 13.6 million children in Sudan who urgently require assistance.

MCKENZIE (voice over): And in Darfur, there have been running battles. According to witnesses, the Sudan doctors union and others, between civilians who've armed themselves and largely Arab militia that's caused thousands of people to flee over the border into Chad. There are more than 1.4 million people according to the U.N. who are displaced in Sudan, as we approach seven weeks or into the seventh week of this conflict.

MCKENZIE: And there's no sign that despite these talks in Jeddah, that there will be a breakthrough and a sustained peace in that country.

David McKenzie, CNN, Johannesburg.


COREN: Brazil's president is trying to revive the Union of South American nations as he pushes for greater economic, cultural and social cooperation in the region.

President Luiz Inacio Lula de Silva is hosting the group's first summit in nine years. He's proposing a common currency among some of those countries, which he says will boost international trade. [00:25:08]

But the unity sought by President Lula could be derailed by his warm welcome of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro. It's the first time Maduro is attending a regional summit since the constitutional crisis and protests that rocked his country in 2019.

A 16-year-old girl is stabbed to death on a street in India as people passing by do nothing to help. Now, outrage is growing over the ever present danger to women in the country.


COREN: Welcome back, you are watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Anna Coren live from Hong Kong.

Outrage is growing across India after a 16-year-old girl was beaten and stabbed to death in a busy public alley in the nation's capital on Sunday. The brutal crime was captured on security camera and shows several people walking by as the man attacks the young woman.

CNN's Vedika Sud has this report.


VEDIKA SUD, CNN REPORTER (voice over): Surveillance video catches a Delhi street quarter to nine, Sunday evening. What the man in blue is about to do is too violent to be shown. In the next moments, a 16- year-old girl's life is taken, stabbed and bludgeoned with a rock against the wall of a house. Witnesses pass by, but no one intervenes.

SUD: Violence against women is so pervasive in India that a young girl can be stabbed in public in a busy neighborhood against the wall of a home.

SUD (voice over): The killing of this teenage girl is the latest in a long line of violent crimes against women in India. This time it's on film shared rapidly online and it has gripped the nation.

The man in blue has been arrested for the murder and named by police simply as Sahil. Police say the two were in a relationship and had an argument shortly before the killing.

The family pleading for justice. Even as across India demands grow to do more to protect women and punish their male attackers. But public anger is no comfort to a family stricken by grief at the loss of their child.

JANAK RAJ, GIRL'S FATHER (through translator): I feel lifeless. I miss her so much. She was such a good child. What to do?

SUD (voice-over): Her mother inconsolable as her daughter was cremated Monday.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): She went to the bazaar to buy some things, and then went to celebrate a friend's birthday. She had gone to buy some new sandals for the birthday. The sandals are now at the police station.


VEDIKA SUD, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Life continues in this poor neighborhood in Northwest Delhi. Investigators have marked a small cross in the place where the young girl was killed. One more place where women aren't safe from men.

Vedika Sud, CNN, New Delhi.


ANNA COREN, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: The attorney for Joran van der Sloot says his client won't fight extradition from Peru and says he wants to go to the U.S. Once there, he will face charges linked to the disappearance of American teenager Natalee Holloway. He's been the prime suspect in the case for nearly 20 years.

CNN's Jean Casarez reports on what has happened since then, including a recent prison fight in Peru.


JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Joran van der Sloot, one of Peru's highest-profile inmates, injured during a brawl in one of the country's most violent prisons, his lawyer telling CNN, "It was a fight among some inmates, and my client got evolved when he tried to defend his friend. Van der Sloot is in prison for killing a woman in Peru 13 years ago today.

JORAN VAN DER SLOOT, SUSPECT IN NATALEE HOLLOWAY DISAPPEARANCE (through translator): I want to give a sincere confession.

CASAREZ (voice-over): And the prime suspect in the shocking disappearance of American Natalee Holloway exactly 18 years ago today, May 3, 2005.

LARRY KING, FORMER CNN HOST: Still no charges against the sole remaining suspect.

CASAREZ (voice-over): Eighteen-year-old Holloway was last seen alive with van der Sloot during her senior trip to Aruba in 2005, but he denies killing her.

BETH HOLLOWAY TWITTY, NATALEE HOLLOWAY'S MOTHER: He knows exactly what happened. He knows what, where, when, who, why, and how. He knows the answers.

CASAREZ (voice-over): Last week, in a letter to his lawyer, Van der Sloot said, "I want to go to the U.S." to face charges, not for murder, but for allegedly extorting thousands of dollars from Holloway's family.

TWITTY: We just feel like that if we just keep working hard and we just keep hanging in there, we will have answers.

CASAREZ (voice-over): Natalee's parents have remained relentless in their pursuit for answers.

In 2010, a $250,000 reward for information was offered. Van der Sloot stepped forward.

According to legal documents, he would reveal the location of Natalee Holloway's body, the circumstances of her death, and identify those involved in return for a payment of $250,000.

The Holloways' attorney went with Van der Sloot to a home in Aruba, and a $25,000 downpayment was given to him. Once there, van der Sloot pointed to the residence and said that Natalee's body would be found in the foundation.

Van der Sloot emailed the hallways after fleeing to Peru, saying he had lied about the location of Natalee's remains.

Surveillance video from a Lima casino shows Van der Sloot gambling. It is believed with the 25,000 he got from the Holloway family. There, he met the daughter of a prominent Peruvian businessman, Stephany Flores. Hours later, she was dead.

VAN DER SLOOT (through translator): I am truly regretful for what I have done.

CASAREZ (voice-over): Van der Sloot admitted to the violent murder and was sent to prison.

Now headed to the U.S., but still no answers as to what happened to Natalee Holloway.

Jean Casarez, CNN, New York.


COREN: The disgraced founder of the failed blood testing start-up Theranos has reported to federal prison. Elizabeth Holmes was sentenced to more than eleven years behind bars for defrauding the company's investors.

She'll serve her sentence at a minimum-security prison in Texas.

Theranos was once valued at $9 billion. The company collapsed in 2018 after flaws in its technology were exposed.

Holmes' ex-boyfriend and former business partner is also in prison. They've been ordered to pay more than more than $450 million to their victims.

Well, tech leaders are are learning about a new way for the world to end. Not from a pandemic, nor nuclear war, but artificial intelligence. Their message is next.


[00:36:32] COREN: A SpaceX capsule with four people aboard is back on Earth. The Crew Dragon splashed down in the Gulf of Mexico near Panama City, Florida, a little less than two hours ago.

Former astronaut Peggy Whitson and three paying passengers spent the past week aboard the International Space Station. The mission was put together by the Houston Texas-based Axiom Space.

The company is hoping to spur private-sector participation in spaceflight.

Well, now to an alarming warning about artificial intelligence from some of the world's top minds on the matter.

Dozens of industry leaders and researchers warned there is a risk of human extinction if A.I. is left unchecked. In a joint statement published by the Center for A.I. Safety, they said, quote, "Mitigating the risk of extinction from A.I. should be a global priority alongside other societal-scale risks such as pandemics and nuclear war."

Those signing the statement include top executives and researchers at OpenAI, Google, Microsoft, and many others.

I want to bring in the director of the Center for A.I. Safety, Dan Hendrycks.

Dan, great to have you with us.

A.I. could lead to the extinction of humanity. Now, that sounds slightly alarmist. Or do you actually believe that it poses an existential threat?

DAN HENDRYCKS, DIRECTOR, CENTER FOR A.I. SAFETY: I think the signatories, which included the CEOs of the top A.I. companies and many of the people who develop the current wave of artificial intelligence, think that it's a real possibility that, within the next few decades, potentially, or possibly much sooner than that, A.I. could either cause society to be a much worse place, or it could even lead to extinction.

COREN: Can you talk us through that, to the layman who doesn't really get it? Why this doomsday scenario?

HENDRYCKS: Yes. So A.I. could be thought of is being somewhat similar to nuclear weapons. Right now, A.I. companies are locked in an A.I. arms race. They're racing to develop increasingly powerful systems, and they're putting that priority ahead of safety.

What this means is that we don't really know how to control these systems reliably, nor do we really understand their inner workings at all.

So that means that we have an extremely powerful technology, which could be potentially a loose cannon. So that's one possible risk. And that could possibly, like the nuclear arms race, lead to humanity's extinction. A more typical concern someone could have is, if we have advanced A.I.

system someone could repurpose them, maliciously use it for harm. They could use it to develop a bioweapon. Or they could use it to develop a rogue A.I. agent and have that trying to take over.

Somebody tried to do that already, but fortunately, current A.I. technologies are not powerful enough to pose the risk of extinction. But given the extremely rapid pace in this A.I. arms race, we may arrive at that point much more quickly than most people are expecting.

COREN: Dan, this letter signed by numerous industry heads, including the CEO of ChatGPT, Sam Altman, talks about A.I. being treated as a global priority. As you mentioned, a nuclear arms race or a pandemic. Is it really on equal footing?

HENDRYCKS: Yes, I think the main difference is that this is just a much newer risk that's gathered the public's attention. But, you know, people in the early '30s weren't thinking that nuclear weapons was that large a concern, and then suddenly, we started building them, and then it became substantially marked (ph).

Now we're starting to build A.I. systems that are about as good as human on some tasks. Not all of them. But the point may be reached soon where we have A.I. systems that are potentially smarter than people.

Humanity has been able to be the apex species on planet Earth because of our intelligence. Not because we have the sharpest teeth, not because we have the biggest muscles. So A.I.s may end up taking that mantle. They may be the ones that are more intelligent than us. And if we're ever in a conflict with them, that may not go too well for us.

COREN: Dan, you are obviously calling for regulation of the A.I. industry. And there have been a handful of people who have now expressed their concerns, not just privately but with this statement. You see this as a coming out, that they're now making their concerns public.

How significant is this, and do you believe that more industry heads need to be going on the record, regarding their concerns about A.I.?

HENDRYCKS: Yes, I think we were generally surprised by how many people are saying that this is a concern. I knew of many people silently agreeing that this could pose a risk of extinction.

But we end up getting many figureheads, like the CEO of Google DeepMind. We weren't expecting him to sign at all.

So there was a surprisingly broad support in industry, as well as in the academy. We have professors from all the top universities.

So hopefully, now that it's known that this is a legitimate scientific issue, we can hopefully proceed forward in treating it like a global priority so we can cooperate at a domestic level, an international level, to reduce risks like malicious use and this A.I. arms race.

COREN: Well, Dan Hendrycks, we certainly appreciate you explaining that all to us. And we thank you for your time.

HENDRYCKS: Thank you.

COREN: I'm Anna Coren live in Hong Kong. Thanks so much for your company. I'll be back at the top of the hour with more CNN NEWSROOM. But first, WORLD SPORT starts after this short break.