Google Sundar Pichai
Google CEO Sundar Pichai delivers the keynote address at the Google I/O 2017 Conference at Shoreline Amphitheater, May 17, 2017, in Mountain View, California. Pichai recently spoke about the potential dangers of artificial intelligence. Getty Images/Justin Sullivan

Google CEO Sundar Pichai is the latest high profile figure to warn about the dangers of artificial intelligence. In an interview with Recode and MSNBC set to air Jan. 26, Pichai likened AI to fire: dangerous, but useful. Pichai said the technology was important but that caution was necessary.

Pichai made the comments during a taped segment of “Revolution: Google and YouTube Changing the World,” a joint endeavor between Recode and MSNBC.

“AI is one of the most important things that humanity is working on,” Pichai said. “It’s more profound than, I don’t know, electricity or fire. [While fire is good] it kills people, too. They learn to harness fire for the benefits of humanity, but we will have to overcome its downsides, too.”

Pichai acknowledged the usefulness of artificial intelligence, citing potential advancements in technology like those that could be used to cure cancer, according to Android Authority. Humanity should, however, be cautious about AI, Pichai said.

“My point is AI is really important, but we have to be concerned about it,” he said, according to Newsweek. “It’s fair to be worried about it – I wouldn’t say we’re just being optimistic about it – we want to be thoughtful about it. AI holds the potential for some of the biggest advances we’re going to see.”

Google owns artificial intelligence company DeepMind, which recently announced it would form a new research group to delve into the ethics of AI. DeepMind Ethics and Society said it would begin publishing research on AI and its impacts sometime this year.

Pichai is among many leading voices who have warned about the need for caution in AI advances. Renowned astrophysicist Stephen Hawking said in November he was concerned about what the future of AI might hold.

“I fear that AI may replace humans altogether,” Hawking told Wired. “If people design computer viruses, someone will design AI that improves and replicates itself. This will be a new form of life that outperforms humans.”

The taped interview with Sundar Pichai will air as "Revolution: Google and YouTube Changing the World" Friday, Jan. 26 at 10 p.m. ET on MSNBC.