Saturday, May 25, 2024

5 Greatest Risks of Artificial Intelligence

Written By Saanvi Mundra (Grade 9)

Most believe the evolution of AI (Artificial Intelligence) will be the next big leap for humanity. Perhaps it will. But profound experts like Elon Musk, Bill Gates and Stephen Hawking have expressed their concerns towards the future consequences it may bear.

‘..with artificial intelligence we’re summoning the demon.’
Elon Musk

What is A.I.?

Artificial Intelligence; just as the word implies, is intelligence that is artificial, programmed by humans to perform activities. This artificial intelligence is incorporated into computer systems to create machines that can think.

The Dark Side: 5 risks posed by A.I.

1. Overpowering mankind

In Stephen Hawking’s words, ”Whereas the short-term impact of AI depends on who controls it, the long-term impact depends on whether it can be controlled at all…It would take off on its own, and re-design itself at an ever-increasing rate. Humans, who are limited by slow biological evolution, couldn’t compete, and would be superseded.

When AI becomes more powerful than humans, (Ray Kurzweil predicts it will reach human levels by 2029) the problem won’t be AI turning evil, the problem will be Artificial Intelligence having goals that are not aligned with ours- which could trigger a war.

“The development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race”
Stephen Hawking

2. Unreasonable large-scale actions

Lack of emotions, morality and common sense makes A.I. unreasonable, unintentionally which could be disastrous. It thinks rationally, not reasonably.

Example – A medical robot, programmed to kill cancer, could come to the conclusion that exterminating humans (who are prone to the disease) is the only way to kill cancer.

3. Wars and Weapon automation

If any major military power pushes ahead with AI weapon development, a global arms race is inevitable. 

Artificial intelligence can be more dangerous than nuclear warheads.’
Elon Musk

  • Automated weapons:
    1. are not secure- What if there is malware or manipulation of the training data?
    2. may be hacked and land in the hands of terrorists, dictators, etc. 
    3. are ideal for tasks such as assassinations, destabilizing nations and selectively killing a particular ethnic group.
  • If we deploy fully autonomous weapons run by A.I., they may make major unreasonable decisions without consulting human authorities.

4. Unemployment

Since A.I. is faster, more precise, and cheaper than human employees, it could lead to mass unemployment and increase economic inequality.

  • A.I. creates only 10 jobs for every 100 jobs that it displaces.
  • According to Forbes, AI will cause 72 million jobs to get displaced by 2022.
  • The jobs created by AI need different skillsets and all the people getting a new job would need to train all over again, which won’t be possible for many.

5. Impact on Society, economy and security

In an automated society, hackers can cripple an economy by crashing its enemy’s self-driving cars, auto-piloted planes, nuclear reactors, automated weapons, industrial robots, communication systems, financial systems and power grids.

AI is developed by humans, and humans might be biased. AI might take decisions influenced by various factors like gender or ethnicity when hiring or firing employees, choosing appropriate people to offer loans, or even in criminal proceedings.

Malicious use of AI could threaten digital security.

  • example- China’s Orwellian use of facial technology could by hacked or manipulated.
  • AI can create ‘deep fakes’ which are realistic but fake images or videos which could lead to manipulation of elections.
  • It can track a person’s online behaviour and display content accordingly. This could lead to change in opinion, bias, etc on an incredibly large scale.


The evolution of Artificial Intelligence is inevitable. It is already an integral part of our lives and is growing at a pace close to exponential. The question is not whether to develop AI—the question is how to do it safely. AI can indeed by one of the greatest leaps of humanity as a civilization. And we can get the benefits while mitigating the risks by regulating it proactively. Otherwise, it will be too late.

“Machine Intelligence is the last invention Humanity will ever have to make.”
Nick Bostron, the author of ‘Superintelligence: Paths, Dangers, Strategies’

Featured Image Courtesy – Cloudfront

Saanvi Mundra
Saanvi Mundra
Saanvi Mundra is a 14-year-old voracious reader, passionate poet and astrophysics and cosmology enthusiast. Her poems and articles can be found on her blog at


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