Doctors Warn: ‘AI Is An Existential Threat To Humanity’

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Experts say advanced AI could 'learn to bypass any constraints in its code'


Doctors and public health experts from around the world have issued a fresh call for the developement of Artificial Intelligence to be halted warning that the technology poses an existental threat to humanity.

Their warning follows almost a month after tech experts also warned that AI could cause the destruction of humanity and that its development should be banned.

According to a team of medical professionals and global health policy experts, there are three ways in which the AI could wipe out humans.

The Mail Online reports: First is the risk that AI will help amplify authoritarian tactics like surveillance and disinformation. ‘The ability of AI to rapidly clean, organise and analyse massive data sets consisting of personal data, including images collected by the increasingly ubiquitous presence of cameras,’ they say, could make it easier for authoritarian or totalitarian regimes to come to power and stay in power.

Second, the group warns that AI can accelerate mass murder via the expanded use of Lethal Autonomous Weapon Systems (LAWS). 

And, lastly, the health experts expressed worry over the potential for severe economic devastation and human misery, as untold millions lose their livelihoods to those hard-working bots. ‘Projections of the speed and scale of job losses due to AI-driven automation,’ according to the authors, ‘range from tens to hundreds of millions over the coming decade.’

There commentary comes only weeks after over a thousand scientists, including John Hopfield from Princeton and Rachel Branson from the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, signed a letter calling for a halt to AI research over similar concerns

Of course, today’s text-based AI resources, like OpenAI’s ChatGPT, don’t exactly pose the apocalyptic threats that these health policy professionals have in mind. 

The experts – led by a physician with the International Institute for Global Health at United Nations University – said their most dire warnings applied to a highly advanced, and still theoretical category of artificial intelligence: self-improving general-purpose AI, or AGI.

AGI would be more capable of truly learning and modifying its own code to perform the wide range of tasks that only humans are capable of today. 

In their commentary, the health experts argue that such an AGI ‘could theoretically learn to bypass any constraints in its code and start developing its own purposes.’

‘There are scenarios where AGI could present a threat to humans, and possibly an existential threat,’ the experts wrote, ‘by intentionally or unintentionally causing harm directly or indirectly, by attacking or subjugating humans or by disrupting the systems or using up resources we depend on.’

While such a threat is likely to be decades away, the health policy experts’ commentary, published today in the British Medical Association journal BMJ Global Health, unpacked the myriad possibilities for abuse of today’s level of AI technology. 

Describing threats to ‘democracy, liberty and privacy,’ the authors described how governments and other large institutions might automate the complex tasks of mass surveillance and online digital disinformation programs to AI.

Niamh Harris
About Niamh Harris 15000 Articles
I am an alternative health practitioner interested in helping others reach their maximum potential.