Why is artificial intelligence a geopolitical risk?

It has the potential to upset the balance of power between nations. AI can be used to create new weapons, automate production, and increase surveillance capabilities, all of which can give certain countries an advantage over others. AI can also be used to manipulate public opinion and interfere in elections, which can destabilize governments and lead to conflict.

Its author did not write the above paragraph. An AI chatbot did it. And the fact that the chatbot is so candid about the political chaos it can wreak is worrying enough, though not as worrying as if he lied when he said there was no threat.

It’s no surprise, then, that AI, powered by social media, is Eurasia Group’s third top risk by 2023. (Fun fact: the title, “Weapons of Mass Disruption,” was also generated in seconds by a bot of ChatGPT).

How big is the threat to democracy from AI? Well, bots cannot (yet) meddle in elections or sell fake news to sway public opinion on their own. But authoritarians, populists, and opportunists can implement AI to help do both. better Y faster.

Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. relied heavily on his army of TikTok trolls to win the votes of young Filipinos in the 2022 election. Automating the process with bots would allow him, or any politician with access to technology, cast a wider net, and jump into viral conversations almost immediately on a social platform that already runs on an AI-powered algorithm.

Another problem is deepfakes, videos of people whose faces or bodies are altered to look like someone else, often with malicious intent (see Jordan Peele’s Obama). AI now does them so well that they are very hard to detect. That’s why the Pentagon’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the same one that brought us the Internet, is honing its own deepfakes to develop technology that helps detect what’s real and what’s fake.

Still, the more “smart” AI gets to propagate lies on social media, and the more widespread its use by shameless politicians, the more dangerous AI becomes.. By the time the viral content is proven to be fake, it may already be too late.

Imagine, say, that supporters of Narendra Modi, the Hindu nationalist Prime Minister of India, want to torch the base by fanning sectarian flames. If the AI ​​can help them create a half-decent fake video of Muslims sacrificing a cow, a sacred animal to Hindus, that spreads fast enough, people might be too angry to wait to even check if the clip is real. if they trust someone to do it. independently verify it.

AI can also alter policy by making bots do things that only humans, however flawed, should do. Indeed, automating the political decision-making process “can lead to skewed results and the potential for abuse of power,” the bot explains.

That’s happening right now in China, an authoritarian state that dreams of dominating AI and is already using the technology in the courts. Once the robotic judges are fully in sync with Beijing’s Orwellian social credit system, it wouldn’t be hard for them to rule against people who have criticized Xi Jinping on social media.

So what can democratic governments do about it before AI ruins everything?? The chatbot has some ideas.

“Governments can protect AI democracy by regulating the use of AI, ensuring it is used ethically and responsibly,” he says. “This could include setting standards for data collection and use, as well as ensuring that AI is not used to manipulate or influence public opinion.”

ok but who should be doing the regulation, and What? For years, the UN has been working on the so-called digital Geneva Convention that would establish global rules to govern cyberspace, including AI. But the talks have been stalled by (surprise!) Russia, whose President Vladimir Putin warned in 2017 that the nation that leads in AI “will be the ruler of the world.”

Governments, the chatbot adds, “must also ensure that AI is transparent and accountable, and that its use is monitored and evaluated. Finally, [they] It must ensure that AI is used to benefit society, rather than undermine it.”

The chatbot raises a fair point: AI can do humanity a lot of good, too. A good example is how machine learning can help us live healthier and longer by detecting diseases earlier and improving certain surgeries.

But, as the Eurasia Group report underscores, “that’s the thing about revolutionary technologies, from the printing press to nuclear fission to the Internet: their power to drive human progress is matched by their ability to amplify the most destructive trends of The humanity”.


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