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AI-Driven Disinformation, the Most Immediate Threat to Global Economy- WEF

In its latest Global Risks Report, the World Economic Forum highlights a significant and immediate risk to the global economy: AI-driven disinformation. AI disinformation is tagged “the biggest global threat in the short term”. The report regards short-term to be within a period of two years, from 2024 to 2026.

Disinformation, the spreading of false or misleading information, has become a potent weapon in the digital age. With the rise of generative AI chatbots like ChatGPT and GPT-4, the creation of sophisticated synthetic content is no longer confined to skilled individuals.

Anyone with a smartphone and internet connection can utilize these chatbots or similar large language models (LLMs) to generate inaccurate data. The wide accessibility of AI raises fears about the manipulation of large groups and the erosion of factual accuracy in public matters.

Carolina Klint, head of risk management at Marsh, whose parent company Marsh McLennan, has co-authored the report with Zurich Insurance Group, expanded on the risk borne by AI.

“You can leverage AI to make deep fakes and have a real impact on large groups, which really fuels disinformation,”

“Societies could become even more polarized” as people find it harder to verify facts, she said. Fake news could also be used to fuel questions about the legitimacy of elected governments, which means democratic processes could be eroded, and that would also lead to even greater societal polarization,” she said.

A hampered democratic system is no good fortune, yet this is the risk that AI poses. The implications are particularly concerning as major economies, like the US, Britain, and India, prepare for elections this year. Not only does facilitate misinformation, it makes way for advanced cyberattacks. AI can equally automate phishing attempts and create sophisticated malware that criminals can leverage.

As much as AI enhances efficiency, fosters innovation, and contributes to complex problem-solving, its consequences cannot be overlooked. According to the World Economic Forum, a central concern for the global community should be how to manage the rapid evolution of AI technology and address the imminent threat of AI-driven disinformation.

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