AI-powered misinformation poses largest short-term global threat: World Economic Forum

Artificial intelligence-powered misinformation and disinformation pose the largest short-term global threat to the world, according to a new report from the World Economic Forum.

They are followed by extreme weather events and societal polarization as global threats, according to the report, which uses a survey of nearly 1,500 experts in areas of academia, business and government to look at global risks.

“No longer requiring a niche skill set, easy-to-use interfaces to large-scale artificial intelligence (AI) models have already enabled an explosion in falsified information and so-called ‘synthetic’ content, from sophisticated voice cloning to counterfeit websites,” the forum’s Global Risk Report reads.

President Biden in October issued an executive order on AI including new standards for safety.

The order required companies developing models that could threaten national security, economic security or public health to notify the federal government during model training.

“President Biden believes that we have an obligation to harness the power of AI for good, while protecting people from its potentially profound risks,” a senior administration official told reporters at the time.

While the report listed AI-generated misinformation and disinformation as the greatest threats, it said extreme weather is another serious problem.

Climate change has contributed to extreme weather events, leading to growing concerns about everything from hurricanes to fires to extreme temperatures.

“Nearly all environmental risks are included in the top 10 rankings for the decade ahead. Extreme weather events are anticipated to become even more severe, as the top ranked risk over the next decade,” the report said.

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