In a thought-provoking address at the UN’s “AI for Good” global summit in Geneva, renowned Israeli historian and author Yuval Noah Harari expressed his concern about the proliferation of “fake humans” across social media…
Harari warned that if left unchecked, the creation and spread of these AI bots, posing as real people to farm engagement, could lead to a collapse in public trust and jeopardize the foundations of democracy.
As a counterbalance, Harari proposed that we introduce severe criminal penalties onto those who create fake profiles, stressing that the situation is urgent and AI safety research has to become a priority if we hope to keep this tech under control.
The Rapid Emergence of Fake Humans
With advancements in AI technology, particularly large language models like ChatGPT, AI bots are not only capable of amplifying human-generated content but also creating their own content at scale.
At scale is the key phrase here…
Imagine a situation where social media platforms become flooded with millions of AI bots – all of which are capable of producing content superior to that of the average person.
This scenario seems like it was cut straight out of the Black Mirror writing room, yet it is an undeniably likely scenario as AI continues to evolve.
With millions of AI bots posting alongside real people, we would have a situation where “real” and AI-based content becomes almost indistinguishable – thereby undermining culture, and global discourse as a whole.
This loss of control over the town square would also take away from the very essence of democracy in a way, the democracy of ideas and free thought.
Safeguarding Democracy + The Need for Criminal Consequences:
Back to Harari, he made an excellent point by drawing a parallel to counterfeit currency, arguing that just as governments have strict rules to protect the financial system from fake money, similar measures should be implemented to safeguard public trust from fake humans.
By holding responsible individuals accountable through criminal charges, our platforms can be prevented from being overwhelmed by fake profiles.
Investing in AI Safety + Committing to Research
Harari stressed the importance of allocating significant investment into AI safety. He suggested that companies be legally required to dedicate 20% of their investment spending to researching potential risks and developing strategies to manage them effectively.
Acknowledging the efforts of OpenAI, the creator of ChatGPT, Harari mentioned their commitment to allocating 20% of their computing power to AI safety, establishing a dedicated research team aimed at understanding and controlling AI, thus preventing it from going rogue.
Harari continued by saying that effective regulation of artificial intelligence and data collection must be a worldwide effort. He warned that without international cooperation, the world risks becoming fragmented into spheres of data collection controlled by a select few nations and companies.
To prevent a dystopian future, Harari stressed the need for rules that prioritize individual data protection, prevent data manipulation, increase oversight of both corporations and governments, and avoid the concentration of all data in a single entity.
Conclusion – Preserving Public Trust
The rise of AI bots on social media poses a significant threat to democratic societies, and Yuval Noah Harari has called for criminal consequences for those responsible, as well as increased investment in AI safety.
By imposing strict penalties and implementing comprehensive regulations, societies can protect public trust, preserve democratic values, and ensure that humans remain in control of the public conversation. The time to act is now to secure a safer and more resilient future for our ever-shifting digital world.