Artificial intelligence could pose a "more urgent" threat to humanity than climate change, AI pioneer Geoffrey Hinton said in an interview on Friday.

Geoffrey Hinton, widely known as one of the "godfathers of AI," recently announced he had quit Alphabet after a decade at the firm, saying he wanted to speak out on the risks of the technology without it affecting his former employer.

Hinton's work is considered essential to the development of contemporary AI systems. In 1986, he co-authored the seminal paper "Learning representations by back-propagating errors," a milestone in the development of the neural networks undergirding AI technology. In 2018, he was given the Turing Award in recognition of his research breakthroughs.