Experts warn AI poses existential threat to health of millions
An article in the BMJ Global Health advocates for a moratorium on the creation of "self-improving artificial general intelligence" until regulations are in place.
Doctors and public health specialists have warned that AI development should stop unless it is regulated because it might endanger the health of millions of people and constitute an existential threat to civilization.
Healthcare could be transformed by artificial intelligence if it can better diagnose illnesses, develop more effective ways to treat patients, and reach more people.
However, health experts from the UK, US, Australia, Costa Rica, and Malaysia wrote in the journal BMJ Global Health that the growth of artificial intelligence may also have a negative impact on health.
The use of AI in ways that may increase socioeconomic and health inequities is one of the hazards linked with medicine and healthcare, as per the authors, who also listed concerns about data privacy and security.
One instance of injury, they claimed, was the undertreatment of hypoxia in patients with darker skin due to the use of an AI-driven pulse oximeter that overestimated blood oxygen levels in those patients.
However, they also foresaw bigger, global dangers posed by AI to human health and perhaps the very existence of humans.
Through the social determinants of health, such as the manipulation and control of individuals, the development of deadly autonomous weapons, and the impacts of mass unemployment on mental health, AI-based systems have the potential to negatively impact the health of millions of people.
“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,” they asserted.
Threats also stem from the estimated tens to hundreds of millions of job losses that will occur over the next 10 years as a result of the widespread use of AI technology.
Separately, a group of medical charities, fact-checkers, and health professionals in the UK demanded that the government's upcoming online safety bill be changed to include provisions to combat health misinformation.
The letter, which is supported by organizations like the British Heart Foundation, Royal College of GPs, and Full Fact, asks the UK government to include a new, legally binding obligation in the bill that would require the biggest social networks to update their terms of service to include guidelines for how they will moderate health-related misinformation.