False and misleading information overloaded with cutting-edge artificial intelligence that threatens to erode democracy and polarize society is the biggest immediate risk to the global economy, the World Economic Forum said in a report Wednesday.
In its latest Global Risks Report, the organization also said that a number of environmental risks represent the biggest long-term threats. The report was released ahead of the elite annual gathering of CEOs and global leaders in the Swiss ski resort town of Davos and is based on a survey of nearly 1,500 experts, industry leaders and policymakers.
The report lists misinformation as the most serious risk over the next two years, highlighting how rapid advances in technology are also creating new problems or worsening existing ones.
The authors are concerned that the rise of generative AI chatbots like ChatGPT means that the creation of sophisticated synthetic content that can be used to manipulate groups of people is no longer limited to those with specialized skills.
AI will be a hot topic next week at the Davos meetings, which are expected to be attended by tech company heads including OpenAI CEO Sam Altman, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, and industry players. of AI such as Meta’s chief AI scientist, Yann LeCun.
Disinformation and AI-driven disinformation are emerging as a risk just as billions of people in a host of countries, including major economies such as the United States, Britain, Indonesia, India, Mexico and Pakistan, head to the polls this Sunday. year and next, according to the report.
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“AI can be leveraged to do deepfakes and really impact large groups, which really drives misinformation,” said Carolina Klint, risk management leader at Marsh, whose parent company, Marsh McLennan, co-authored the report with Zurich Insurance Group. .
“Societies could become even more polarized” as people find it harder to verify facts, he said. False information could also be used to fuel doubts about the legitimacy of elected governments, “which means that democratic processes could be eroded and would also drive further social polarization,” Klint said.
The rise of AI comes with many other risks, he said. It can empower “malicious actors” by making it easier to carry out cyber attacks, for example by automating phishing attempts or creating advanced malware.
AI pioneer reflects on future of technology after week of turmoil at OpenAI With AI, “you don’t have to be the smartest tool in the shed to be a malicious actor,” Klint said.
It can even poison data pulled from the internet to train other AI systems, which is “incredibly difficult to reverse” and could lead to more bias being built into AI models, he said.
The other major global concern for risk survey respondents focused on climate change. After misinformation and disinformation, extreme weather is the second most pressing near-term risk.
In the long term, defined as 10 years, extreme weather was described as the number one threat, followed by four other environment-related risks: critical changes to Earth systems; loss of biodiversity and collapse of ecosystems; and scarcity of natural resources.
“We could be pushed past that irreversible tipping point of climate change” over the next decade as Earth’s systems undergo long-term changes, Klint said.
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