Artificial Intelligence presents both risks and opportunities from a country’s perspective. From existential risks to job displacement, bias, and security and privacy concerns… An increased awareness of these issues encourages us to get meaningfully engaged in conversations about the legal, ethical, and societal implications of the technology.
In a survey conducted by Ipsos on behalf of the World Economic Forum, results indicate that 60% of adults globally anticipate a profound transformation in their daily lives within the next 3-5 years due to the integration of products and services utilizing artificial intelligence (AI).
As we witness unparalleled growth in the field of AI, it becomes imperative to conscientiously evaluate the potential risks and challenges that come hand in hand with the widespread adoption of these technologies. This awareness is crucial for fostering responsible and informed advancements in AI that positively impact societies around the world.
Following are the top risks with the use of AI, faced by the countries worldwide:
Biases and Discrimination
As AI systems rely on vast datasets to make decisions, they may inadvertently perpetuate or even amplify existing biases present in the data.
A comprehensive study conducted by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) scrutinized facial recognition algorithms developed by approximately 100 contributors from 189 organizations, including notable entities such as Toshiba, Intel, and Microsoft.
Patrick Grother, one of the researchers involved, highlighted the concerning findings, stating:
"While it is generally inappropriate to make broad assertions about various algorithms, our research provided empirical evidence supporting the presence of demographic differentials in the majority of the algorithms under examination."
The results underscore the importance of addressing and rectifying potential biases within facial recognition systems to ensure fair and unbiased technological applications.
In an interview with Dinis Guarda, Debra Ruh, the Chair of the United Nations's G3ict EmployAbility Task Force, says:
“The only way to ensure that we do not, consciously or unconsciously, build biases into Artificial Intelligence is to make sure that you have a diverse group of people programming, training, managing, looking, quality assuring, and testing it. The talent is there, we just have to have the will to make sure we’re doing the innovations. Whatever you are doing, you’ve got to make sure it’s inclusive, or we’re going to make the same mistakes we’ve been making all along.”
Privacy and security risks
AI systems often rely on vast datasets, which may include sensitive personal information, to generate insights and make decisions. According to a study report by KPMG, 71% IT leaders believe Gen AI will introduce new data security risks. The 360-degree digital transformation brings about challenges in maintaining digital identity and cybersecurity.
The inherent complexity of AI algorithms makes it challenging to predict and control how these systems handle and store such sensitive data, posing a potential threat to individual privacy. Moreover, the interconnected nature of AI applications increases susceptibility to cybersecurity threats, ranging from data breaches to malicious attacks on AI infrastructure.
"Today, AI systems are being developed with a priority to essentially generate AI for business outcomes. The security aspect is kind of lagging behind. This is not new because security, as such, has always been a reactive approach. But we actually need to understand how we are going to develop AI principles, that is security by design, and integrating it in the software development life cycle.”
Workforce changes and Displacement
The World Economic Forum's Future of Jobs Report 2023 suggests that there is a rapid decline in many clerical or secretarial roles with an increasing integration of AI.
The Accenture report recommends, businesses should deconstruct current job roles into "fundamental bundles of tasks" to identify areas where AI can streamline processes and enhance efficiency. Once these task bundles are identified, organizations can focus on upskilling their workforce, preparing them for new roles that incorporate AI technologies.
Accenture suggests that this approach not only allows employees to adapt to changing job landscapes but also presents opportunities for the creation of entirely new roles. These may include positions such as linguistics experts, AI quality controllers, AI editors, and prompt engineers. Embracing this proactive approach to workforce development enables companies to navigate the transformative impact of AI on existing job structures while simultaneously cultivating a workforce equipped with the skills necessary for emerging roles in the AI-driven era.
Regulatory and policies Frameworks
The novel applications of AI present opportunities for enhancing economic efficiency and quality of life. However, they also bring about unforeseen consequences and new risks that might negatively impact individuals, businesses, or society as a whole.
To maximize the benefits of AI while minimizing potential harms, governments globally must deepen their understanding of the scope and depth of these risks. This entails the development of robust regulatory frameworks and governance structures to effectively address emerging challenges. A critical aspect involves creating new legal frameworks tailored to the distinctive issues posed by AI technologies, encompassing considerations of liability and intellectual property rights.
Dr. Sobhi Tawil, the Director of the Future of Learning and Innovation team at UNESCO, says that AI is an unchartered territory, especially when it is integrated in early education. Expressing his concern, he says:
“The main message of UNESCO is that while there might be potential for education, the lack of regulation and guidance in this unchartered territory poses major challenges.”
The regulations and policies in AI must ensure universal access to the advantages of AI, regardless of geographical or economic constraints, thereby establishing the importance of bridging the digital divide.
Ethical concerns and erosion of ‘humanistic’ factor
As AI systems become more sophisticated, there is a risk that human interactions may be reduced to algorithmic transactions, potentially diminishing the depth and authenticity of interpersonal relationships. The reliance on AI in various aspects of life, from virtual assistants to social media algorithms, brings forth questions about privacy, consent, and the ethical implications of automated decision-making.
The loss of human connection in favor of algorithm-driven interactions underscores the importance of carefully navigating the ethical landscape surrounding AI. Striking a balance between technological advancement and preserving the fundamental human qualities of empathy, understanding, and genuine connection is paramount to ensure that AI augments, rather than replaces, the richness of human relationships. Ethical considerations must be at the forefront of AI development to safeguard the essence of human connection in an increasingly automated world.
The misinformation menace
The rise of AI-generated content, like deepfakes, poses a significant threat to the veracity of information and the manipulation of public opinion. In the current digital era, it is imperative to detect and combat the dissemination of AI-generated misinformation to uphold the integrity of information.
A Stanford University study emphasises that AI systems are increasingly wielded to propagate disinformation on the internet. From the proliferation of deepfake videos to the utilisation of online bots to manipulate public discourse and disseminate fake news, the study warns of AI systems eroding social trust.
This trend not only jeopardises democratic principles but also presents a potent tool for fostering fascism. The technology's potential exploitation by various entities, including criminals, rogue states, ideological extremists, or special interest groups, for economic or political motives further accentuates the urgent need to address the looming threat of AI-generated misinformation.
Lack of international collaboration and cooperation
As AI technologies transcend national borders, challenges and opportunities arising from their deployment require collective efforts on a global scale. The lack of a cohesive framework for international collaboration hinders the establishment of common standards, sharing of best practices, and addressing cross-border issues such as data governance, economic cooperation, and intellectual property rights.
In the absence of concerted efforts, nations may struggle to effectively regulate the use of AI, potentially leading to fragmented policies and uneven technological development. The imperative for international cooperation in the realm of AI lies in fostering a harmonised approach that ensures ethical deployment, mitigates risks, and harnesses the transformative potential of AI for the collective benefit of humanity.
Global acceptance and trust
The challenge of public perception and trust emerges as a critical factor in the widespread acceptance and responsible integration of artificial intelligence (AI). As AI technologies become more prevalent in various aspects of daily life, there is a growing need to transparently communicate their benefits and risks to the public. Concerns and misconceptions surrounding AI, fueled by a lack of understanding or misinformation, can lead to skepticism and resistance.
Building and maintaining public trust necessitates a commitment to openness, ethical practices, and proactive engagement. Addressing concerns about data privacy, security, and the ethical use of AI is paramount in shaping a positive perception.
By fostering a transparent dialogue and ensuring that the public is well-informed, the AI community can work towards establishing a foundation of trust that is crucial for the responsible and widespread adoption of these transformative technologies.
An existential risk
The prospect of existential risk looms ominously over the use of artificial intelligence (AI), raising profound concerns about the potential consequences of unchecked technological development. As AI systems advance in complexity and autonomy, there is a growing apprehension that these systems, if not properly governed, could pose existential threats to humanity. The fear is rooted in the hypothetical scenarios where highly intelligent AI entities surpass human intelligence, potentially acting in ways that could be detrimental or even catastrophic.
The notion of an uncontrollable superintelligent AI, acting against human interests, underscores the need for stringent ethical frameworks, robust governance, and careful consideration of the long-term implications of AI development. Addressing existential risks associated with AI involves a delicate balance between promoting innovation and safeguarding humanity from the unintended consequences of increasingly sophisticated AI systems.
It calls for global collaboration and a commitment to ethical AI practices to navigate this challenging landscape responsibly.