Health Experts Warn of AI's Existential Threat

    Health Experts Warn of AI's Existential Threat
    Last updated May 10, 2023
    Image credit: Getty Images [via The Guardian]


    • According to health professionals from the UK, US, Australia, Costa Rica, and Malaysia writing in the journal BMJ Global Health, more advanced artificial intelligence could harm millions. The experts called for a halt in its development until the technology is regulated.
    • They argue AI carries the risk of amplifying authoritarian tactics like surveillance and disinformation, can accelerate mass murder via the expanded use of Lethal Autonomous Weapon Systems, and could lead to millions becoming miserable as AI takes their jobs and livelihoods.
    • While AI could help diagnose diseases, develop new therapies, and perform menial tasks for patients, studies have suggested the technologies have discriminated against Black patients, and, according to NYU Langone Health's Marc Siegel, could potentially replace "personalized medicine" with algorithms.
    • The group also said healthcare risks include "potential for AI errors to cause patient harm, issues with data privacy and security, and the use of AI in ways that will worsen social and health inequalities."
    • Among the broader issues they include are that AI could replace tens to hundreds of millions of jobs over the coming decade, as well as "undermine democracy by causing a general breakdown in trust" due to schemes like AI-driven "deep fakes."
    • The authors also cited a survey of members of the AI industry in which 18% of participants stated they believed the development of advanced, yet still theoretical self-improving general-purpose AI ("Artificial General Intelligence" or AGI) would be existentially catastrophic for humanity, with half saying it would likely become reality between 2040 and 2065.


    Narrative A

    Just as drugs can't go on the market without undergoing a review process, AI development beyond what's currently out there should be paused until experts and the public more generally have an understanding of this powerful technology. Scientific experts in multiple fields from across the globe are begging us to take this seriously, and we should heed their warnings.

    Narrative B

    The world is currently in the midst of an international AI arms race — and there is nothing anyone can do to stop it. However, this doesn't mean it will be used for evil and, despite what some in the industry feel, the public should not be fearful. Some countries and companies will pursue bad things with AI while others pursue noble goals; as AI researchers have said for decades, we should hope and push for those with noble pursuits to use the technology to make life easier, healthier, and longer.

    Nerd narrative

    There's an 85% chance that there will be an event precipitated by AI that causes at least 100 deaths and/or at least $1B in economic damage by 2032, according to the Metaculus prediction community.

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