Health Experts’ Alarming Warning: AI Poses Existential Threat to Humanity
May 15, 2023
A group of international health experts has raised the alarm about the potential dangers of certain types of artificial intelligence (AI). Led by Dr. Frederik Federspiel of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, the group emphasizes that while
AI holds transformative potential for society, it can also be misused and have severe negative impacts. In an article published in the journal BMJ Global Health, the experts highlight concerns such as AI’s potential to manipulate behavior, subvert democracy, facilitate surveillance, and even lead to job displacement.
They urge the need for immediate action to mitigate these risks and protect humanity.
Manipulating Behavior and Subverting Democracy: AI’s Dark Side
The experts point out that AI’s ability to efficiently process and analyze vast amounts of data. Including personal information, raises concerns about its potential misuse for manipulating behavior and undermining democracy. They highlight past instances where AI has been employed to influence elections. Such as the 2016 U.S. presidential election and the 2017 French presidential election.
Similar AI-driven manipulation has also been observed in Kenyan elections in 2013 and 2017. The authors stress that when combined with the emergence of deep fakes, AI-driven information systems can erode trust, amplify social divisions, and lead to public health consequences.
AI-driven Surveillance: Control and Oppression in the Digital Age
Another significant concern raised by the experts is the use of AI-driven surveillance for control and oppression. They draw attention to China’s Social Credit System as an example, which employs facial recognition technology and analyses extensive repositories of personal data to monitor individuals’ financial transactions, movements, police records, and social relationships.
The team notes that at least 75 countries, including liberal democracies, are expanding similar surveillance systems, which can potentially impinge on privacy and human rights.
Lethal Autonomous Weapon Systems: A Threat to Human Lives
The development of Lethal Autonomous Weapon Systems (LAWS) is another area of concern. These systems, attached to small mobile devices like drones, can autonomously locate, select, and engage human targets without human supervision.
The experts caution that such technologies have the potential to cause significant harm and raise ethical questions surrounding the use of lethal force.
Job Displacement and Wealth Inequality: The Impact of AI on Employment
The impact of widespread AI adoption on employment is also discussed. While there may be benefits in eliminating repetitive and dangerous jobs, the displacement of human workers by automation can lead to adverse health outcomes and social challenges associated with unemployment.
The experts highlight the need to address potential wealth inequality resulting from automation, as it tends to concentrate income and wealth in the hands of a few, leading to a more unequal distribution of resources worldwide.
Self-Improving General Purpose AI (AGI): A Turning Point in History
The experts further underscore the risks associated with self-improving general-purpose AI (AGI). AGI, if developed, could possess human-level intelligence and capabilities, potentially surpassing our own. The connection of AGI to the internet and various real-world applications. Including vehicles, robots, weapons, and digital systems, could mark a significant turning point in human history.
Urgent Action Required: Safeguarding Humanity in the Age of AI
The experts emphasize that urgent action is required to navigate the risks associated with AI. They stress the importance of international cooperation, policy decisions, and effective regulatory frameworks to minimize harm and maximize benefits.
Transparency, accountability, and checks and balances are essential in ensuring that AI serves humanity’s interests. Also it needs to protect democracy, uphold privacy rights, and avoid the detrimental consequences of unchecked AI development.