AI's role in spreading false information requires a fast and coordinated global response, according to WEF

Ben Wodecki, Jr. Editor

January 15, 2024

2 Min Read
A graphic representation of detecting AI-generated content. The The World Economic Forum warns that AI-driven misinformation is now a top global risk
Getty images

At a Glance

  • The World Economic Forum warns that AI-driven misinformation is now the top global risk.

The World Economic Forum (WEF) has identified misinformation and disinformation as the top short-term risks to Earth and blamed AI for causing an “explosion” of falsified information.

According to the Global Risks Report, published ahead of the Davos 2024 event, AI models are already enabling the spread of misinformation via voice cloning to counterfeit websites and it’s set to get worse.

AI-generated, or as the WEF report calls it, ‘synthetic’ content will “manipulate individuals, damage economies and fracture societies in numerous ways over the next two years.”

The report claims that misinformation created by bad actors using AI could escalate conflicts or lead to stock market manipulation, among other examples.

“In the next two years, a wide set of actors will capitalize on the boom in synthetic content, amplifying societal divisions, ideological violence and political repression – ramifications that will persist far beyond the short-term,” the report reads.

WEF wants faster action to prevent the spread of misinformation, warning that some governments could delay action as they debate the trade-off between preventing misinformation and protecting free speech.

Some bodies have already made efforts to agree rules governing AI, including the EU AI Act, which is nearing completion after years of political back and forth. The WEF report references requirements in China where AI-generated content needs to be watermarked, saying such an approach could “help identify false information, including unintentional misinformation through AI hallucinated content.

Related:Now Anyone Can Build an Uncensored ChatGPT

The report calls on leaders to rethink action to address global risks. However, the report does acknowledge that the speed and effectiveness of regulation is “unlikely to match the pace of development.”

For example, the EU AI Act had to make amendments to cover foundation models like ChatGPT.

The WEF report recommends more global cooperation on building guardrails for emerging risks like AI.

Saadia Zahidi, WEF managing director, said: "World leaders must come together to address short-term crises as well as lay the groundwork for a more resilient, sustainable, inclusive future."

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ChatGPT / Generative AI

About the Author(s)

Ben Wodecki

Jr. Editor

Ben Wodecki is the Jr. Editor of AI Business, covering a wide range of AI content. Ben joined the team in March 2021 as assistant editor and was promoted to Jr. Editor. He has written for The New Statesman, Intellectual Property Magazine, and The Telegraph India, among others. He holds an MSc in Digital Journalism from Middlesex University.

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