Experts warn of harmful effects of AI on human health and existencetext_fields
Doctors and public health experts are calling for a halt to the development of artificial general intelligence until it is regulated, warning that AI could harm the health of millions and pose an existential threat to humanity.
While AI has the potential to revolutionize healthcare by improving diagnosis and treatment, health professionals warn that the risks include potential AI errors causing patient harm, issues with data privacy and security, and the use of AI in ways that will worsen social and health inequalities.
They cite an example of an AI-driven pulse oximeter that overestimated blood oxygen levels in patients with darker skin, resulting in undertreatment of their hypoxia.
In addition to these negative health impacts, the experts also warn of broader global threats to human health and existence. AI could harm the health of millions via the social determinants of health through the control and manipulation of people, the use of lethal autonomous weapons, and the mental health effects of mass unemployment as AI-based systems displace large numbers of workers.
They contend that when combined with the rapidly improving ability to distort or misrepresent reality with deep fakes, AI-driven information systems may further undermine democracy by causing a general breakdown in trust or by driving social division and conflict, with ensuing public health impacts.
Threats also arise from the loss of jobs that will accompany the widespread deployment of AI technology, with estimates ranging from tens to hundreds of millions over the coming decade. While there would be many benefits from ending work that is repetitive, dangerous and unpleasant, unemployment is strongly associated with adverse health outcomes and behaviour.
The threat posed by self-improving artificial general intelligence, which, theoretically, could learn and perform the full range of human tasks, is all-encompassing, the experts suggest. They warn that the potential for such machines to apply this intelligence and power, whether deliberately or not and in ways that could harm or subjugate humans, is real and has to be considered.