Unchecked AI could cause social order to collapse and lead to war, top Japanese firms warn
04/15/2024 // Cassie B. // Views

If governments don’t act soon to regulate artificial intelligence, it could lead to “social collapse and wars,” a pair of top Japanese firms have warned.

In a joint statement about the rapid development of generative AI, the owners of Japan’s biggest newspaper, Yomiuri Shimbun Holdings and the country’s top telecom firm, Nippon Telegraph and Telephone (NTT), acknowledged the advantages of the technology and its utility for enhancing productivity but then launched into a long list of ways it can go wrong.

They point out that AI can “confidently lie and easily deceive” users because humans “are easily fooled,” something we have already seen with the technology even before it has been widely adopted. They also note that it could be used for nefarious purposes, such as election interference, security threats and undermining democracy, causing “enormous and irreversible damage.”

They wrote: “If generative AI is allowed to go unchecked, trust in society as a whole may be damaged as people grow distrustful of one another and incentives are lost for guaranteeing authenticity and trustworthiness. There is a concern that, in the worst-case scenario, democracy and social order could collapse, resulting in wars.”

Another interesting point they raise is the potential for the widespread use of AI to exacerbate the “attention economy,” with the overwhelming amount of information available causing human attention to become deficient. In response, they maintain that corporations and governments are coming up with new ways to capture people’s attention, which has “made the information space unhealthy and damages the dignity of the individual.”

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They warn that nations around the world should implement education about the advantages and drawbacks of the technology into their curriculums and develop “strong legal restrictions on the use of generative AI - hard laws with enforcement powers.”

They also call for stronger copyright laws and new legislation aimed at protecting elections and national security.

EU leading the world in AI legislation

The European Union is currently leading the world when it comes to comprehensive legislation governing the use of AI. All 27 EU member states have already endorsed the “Artificial Intelligence Act,” and it is poised to take effect later this year.

The regulation will see AI products categorized into one of four risk classes, with those deemed an “unacceptable risk” banned outright and a series of restrictions being placed on providers and developers of those falling under the high-risk category.

Prohibited systems will include those that are capable of “deploying subliminal, manipulative, or deceptive techniques to distort behavior and impair informed decision-making.” Those that exploit individuals’ vulnerabilities or categorize them based on gender, race, social behavior and sexuality will also be outlawed.

Bans will be enforced six months after the Act goes into effect this summer, with violators being hit with hefty fines.

This represents a far more thorough approach than the U.S. is using, where regulation is largely up to each state and few controls are in place. However, at least half of the states have already started to consider legislation related to AI, while 15 have passed their own resolutions and laws. The White House recently announced that federal agencies that rely on AI will be required to put “concrete safeguards” in place by December to ensure the safety of Americans and protect their rights.

While legislation may help hold companies and individuals accountable, it won’t do much to deter those with bad intentions from acting. We’re already well on our way to the social collapse and war these Japanese firms are warning about, and it may be just a matter of time before AI brings about society’s ultimate downfall.

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