Artificial intelligence

Global institutions respond to the risks and rewards of AI

February 29, 2024

While AI technology itself continues its fast pace of development, the world surrounding it is only now beginning to catch up. In recent months, global institutions have been weighing in on what impacts AI will have on the world – for better or worse.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has released a comprehensive report titled 'Gen-AI: Artificial Intelligence and the Future of Work,' assessing the impact of artificial intelligence on employment and economies worldwide. The report has found that AI will affect almost 40 percent of jobs around the world, replacing some and complementing others.

The report highlights AI’s ability to impact high-skilled jobs. The IMF concludes that advanced economies, therefore, face greater risks from the technology – but also more opportunities to leverage its benefits.

For the report, the IMF staff developed an index that measures which countries are best prepared for the AI revolution. The three countries scoring highest on the index were Singapore, the United States, and Denmark.

At the sametime, the IMF admits that the effects of AI on the future of work are difficult to foresee but notes that the technology is being integrated into businesses around the world at a remarkable speed, underscoring the need for a set of policies to safely leverage the vast potential of AI.

And that is exactly what the European Union has come up with. In December, EU policymakers approved the world's first comprehensive rulebook for Artificial Intelligence. "The global benchmark on AI regulation," as it has been called, seeks – among many other things – to define a list of risky use cases with the potential to harm people's safety and fundamental rights.

Among other things, the legislation bans the use of AI software for emotion recognition in the workplace and educational institutions. Another prohibition is the use of predictive policing software to assess an individual's risk of committing future crimes based on personal traits.

It will take up to two years before the landmark agreement takes full effect, and in the meantime, you can follow any legislative updates from the European Commission here.

Among the areas of potential AI misuse that the EU is now aiming to ban is the use of manipulative techniques such as deep fake videos – typically done in the form of manipulation of facial appearance through so-called deep generative methods.

Recently, the World Economic Forum (WEF) has pointed to this as a special cause for concern in 2024, where several of the world's largest democracies are scheduled to vote in general elections. In total, more than 40 percent of the world's population are due for a trip to the voting booths this year, putting misinformation generated by AI particularly in focus.

According to the WEF, false and misleading information can be "supercharged with cutting-edge artificial intelligence," in turn, threatening to erode democracy and polarize societies the world over. That's why the WEF places AI-driven misinformation as the "biggest short-term threat to the global economy" in their latest installment of the yearly Global Risks Report.

Luckily, a lot of effort has gone into creating counteracting software, capable of detecting fake content and stopping it from ever reaching the Internet. Even so, experts say, the best way to mitigate the spread of false information is by educating ourselves to better spot manipulated media – a good place to start is by visiting MIT’s Detect Fakes project.