Top 10 Fears About Artificial Intelligence

Artificial Intelligence (AI) hasn’t stopped making waves in the news and pulling controversial opinions since the day it dawned on the global landscape. Whilst this technology is, by no means, a modern invention, ever since the launch of OpenAI’s ChatGPT last year, the attention and effect of generative AI have become an almost inescapable part of our daily lives.

While some have relished the fresh perspective and new way of doing things, others have voiced more apprehensive opinions regarding the momentous scale of change that has already ricocheted from this technology.


Why Might Artificial Intelligence Feel Scary?


It’s relatively unsurprising that a mass of people around the world are fearful of AI. Everything AI affects, from how it may influence how we work, how we socialise, and how we intake information, can feel like a daunting new way of life.

As humans, we’re programmed to be scared, as well as curious, of the unknown. Although AI isn’t a new type of technology, the recent year has seen it catapulted into the global eye, infiltrating what feels like every corner of our daily lives.

It’s a fear that has widely been coined ‘AI Anxiety’: a sense of fear and anxiety about the rapid rise of AI, how it will change life as we know it, and what catastrophic effects it may have in our future.


The Top 10 Artificial Intelligence Fears


Everyone’s perspective of AI will be different. Some welcome it, looking to it to continuously grow and expand to become an ever greater part of our lives. In contrast, others shrink away from it, feeling an unsettling feeling when they ponder the future of this technology and everything it will bring. But, regardless of your views, as a global community, it’s easy to see the common fears that have quickly surfaced regarding AI.


1. Job Fears


In a conversation with UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak at the AI Safety Summit earlier this month, Elon Musk made a statement that sums up a fear many have regarding AI: “There will come a point where no job is needed.”

What Musk was referring to is, of course, the idea that AI will become so smart and capable that it will be able to swallow up the entire global workforce. Whilst this is arguably fearmongering from Musk (we will surely have job protection in place to ensure people’s professional lives are safe), statements like these are precisely what have been enflaming apprehensions about how AI will endanger our jobs.


2. Independent Thought


While many rejoice to see AI increasingly learning to think like a human, others worry that this will cause too great a dependence on the technology. People worry that, as AI becomes a bigger part of our lives, people will lose the focus as well as the will to think for themselves, instead simply using AI to think for them. Could this really be the end of original thought as we know it?


3. Lack of Regulation


The AI as we know and use it today is still relatively new, and many worry that it is not yet properly regulated. This technology is developing at such a speed that there is widespread fear of it moving too quickly for law and regulation to keep up.

According to The Wall Street Journal, Sam Altman, CEO of OpenAI called on lawmakers to enforce safety and regulation standards in relation to AI. The technology must comply with safety standards, Altman urged, or else this power tool could dissent into becoming out of control and dangerous.


4. Human Connection


As with the rise of technology in general, there is an eternal worry that the popularity of technology will cause a simultaneous drop in human connection.

Generative AI is becoming so advanced that AI chatbots can increasingly interact in an emotionally intelligent way, literally being able to mimic human thoughts and behaviours. Casting our eyes to the future, one could imagine a time when people choose to interact with AI chatbots over their human neighbours.


5. Political Bias


We may think of technology as being inhuman, incapable of having human opinions and therefore unable to sway our political, religious, or social beliefs. But is this right? There have been increasing worries that, just as social media algorithms are arguably becoming less impartial, AI too is shifting towards having a political bias.

The Washington Post reported earlier this year that a paper from the University of East Anglia suggests ChatGPT has a bias toward liberal parties in the US, UK and Brazil. AI having a systematic political bias is a real cause for concern due to the sheer accessibility of this technology. Anybody with access to the internet may be able to access chatbots such as ChatGPT and have their political opinions unfairly swayed by generative AI.

6. AI Arms Race


Unsurprisingly, ever since AI really burst onto the scene last year, global nations have been scrambling to get a monopoly on this powerful tool. As Elon Musk and world leaders keep reminding us, AI is, after all, our future.

Particularly between the US and China, an all-out arms race has erupted to be the top dog in this technology, with each trying to out-trump the other by rushing to make advancements in AI. This has promoted worries that the AI arms race will fuel global tensions and consequently result in a more heated and confrontational political landscape.


7. Cybersecurity


As any kind of technology matures, this inevitably leads to an amplified risk to cybersecurity. Whether by its own nature or by the will of being in unsafe hands, AI may accidentally cause, or willfully be used, to risk our cyber safety.

Whether it’s by generating unsafe and misguiding information online, infiltrating the computers it is downloaded on, or inadvertently aiding phishing attacks, many are fearful about the connection between AI and cybersecurity.


8. Art and Originality


There has been severe backlash from the artistic community in regard to AI’s ability to generate art, stories, music, special effects, and so on. What may take an artist, musician, illustrator, graphic designer, or author hundreds of hours to carefully create may take AI a matter of minutes to produce.

This blurring of creative boundaries has left many, both in and out of the professional artistic community, furious at what they believe to be a theft of creative originality. Many believe that the act of simply pressing a button to create something is the opposite of all that art is meant to be. This, in addition to further worries about how this may affect the safety of creative jobs, has left many frustrated over how to protect the sanctity of the human creative process.


9. Misinformation


We have already seen the damage AI can do in spreading misinformation online. A prime example of this can be seen in the part AI played in the recent Sudan Civil War, after a campaign using AI to impersonate the former leader of Sudan, Omar al-Bashir, received hundreds of thousands of views on social media platform TikTok.

This involved an anonymous account posting dozens of clips of what is referred to as “leaked recordings” of Omar al-Bashir, but what were actually faked clips of the ex-president speaking.

Such fake news can spread like wildfire on popular social media platforms, and the potential this has for disrupting already delicate political situations and public opinion is obvious.


10. What Comes Next?


The overall looming fear: What exactly will become of AI? And just where is this story heading?

Right now, although almost everyone has an opinion, no one can really know. AI is developing at such a speed that many fear we will run into some catastrophic unintended consequences at the end of the road.

This brings our fears of this technology poignantly back to that ever-so-human fear of the unknown. Where do we go from here? How can we be sure that AI will shape a safe future for humanity? And, could, and even should, AI be stopped?