The moot at a recent Oxford Union debate reads, “This house believes that fake news is a serious threat to democracy and truth.” the fact is, it’s far worse than that.
Artificial intelligence (AI) is poised to catastrophically transform the information ecosystem and in the process destroy all semblance of truth, fact, knowledge and our ability to act freely and autonomously.
This is because AI will win the fake news game, and it will evolve and adapt to perfectly exploit the psychological weaknesses of human beings. This is foreseeable, and unleashing such intelligences to fight human information wars will be negligent at the least and malicious at worst.
Reasons why AI will destroy the notion of truth
Fake news can already be engineered to discredit journalists and cause real life political demonstrations over issues that do not exist. A Trend Micro report claims it costs $200,000 at present to cause such events.
Autonomous agents now account for 45% of social media posts in some countries. Masses of fake content can give the impression of popularity and cause conformist behavioural effects.
Fake news resembling, at first glance, legitimate sources is now widespread. This can drive belief and behavior through prestige-based psychological effects.
Social media databases harbor vast quantities of psychological and preference information about billions of humans. This data can be exploited to psychologically profile every user on Earth.
Human minds are hackable:
Human psychology is flawed and open to exploitation and manipulation as classic experiments in power and authority, conformity, bias and ideology demonstrate.
AI will learn to harvest this social information, and draw associations and temporal connections between information and behaviour. A recent systematic review details progress to date in using social media to predict the future.
Rival human factions will deploy such AIs to create, distribute, target, and deploy fake content individualized to the susceptibilities of individual human beings on a massive scale. The limits on human productivity will not apply to content generated by AI. The output will be unimaginably vast.
These AIs will be programmed as swarms of intelligences able to evolve and adapt to the defenses used by the AIs of rival human factions. Fake news spam identifiers will struggle to keep up in this evolutionary arms race.
Almost all Internet traffic and content will become AI generated.
Humans will be misled into beliefs and courses of action many steps ahead of being aware they are being manipulated, if even aware at all.
Human beings will fade into the background awash in a polluted information ecosystem, unable to discern fact from fiction or reality from revision.
We will lose all ability to act on information and evidence and thereby lose all freedom and autonomy.
This is the real threat of AI.
Adapt Research promotes the importance of clean information and the notions of risk management, and evidence-informed policy.
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