Disease warfare, lab leaks and AI misuse could be deadlier than COVID pandemic
The coronavirus infection (COVID-19) pandemic has killed more than three million people, but researchers from Oxford and Cambridge universities say there are more dangerous threats to humanity.
As reported by an experts report, the fight against disease, the release of hazardous pathogens from laboratories and misuse of artificial intelligence can be much more dangerous than COVID.
According to one of the report’s lead authors, Toby Ord, the likelihood of “an existential catastrophe in the next hundred years” is roughly 16.7%. Among the most dangerous threats, experts note biological weapons and the leakage of pathogens from laboratories. While the biotechnology industry has tremendous benefits, it also has “daunting prospects” for misuse. To address this problem, the researchers recommend creating a biosafety guideline board and screening all DNA syntheses for dangerous pathogens.
The second most important threat to humanity is artificial intelligence. Instead of distant Terminator-style doomsday scenarios, experts explain that even widespread deployment of current AI capabilities “can lead to or contribute to extreme risks.” AI accidents and misuse are becoming more dangerous as a result of its more widespread use in “safety-critical” technologies such as self-driving cars and military equipment.
Researchers are calling for increased surveillance and tracking of AI research and an update to the Defense Department’s definition of lethal autonomous weapons.
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