AI ‘is a bigger threat than climate change or terrorism,’ science chief warns

Rob Waugh
Contributor
Is AI a bigger threat than terrorism? (Getty)

Artificial intelligence is a bigger threat than antibiotic resistance, climate change or terrorism, the incoming head of the British Science Association has said.

Professor Jim Al-Khalili pointed to the increasing impact of cyber risks – in the form of Russian election hacking – as evidence that the threat of AI is a pressing one.

In the future, AI-controlled systems such as banks and power grids might mean our whole society is vulnerable, he said.

Professor Al-Khalili said at a meeting in London in advance of the British Science Festival that AI will ‘dominate’ other issues, even pressing threats such as climate change and terrorism.

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He said, ‘Until maybe a couple of years ago had I been asked what is the most pressing and important conversation we should be having about our future, I might have said climate change or one of the other big challenges facing humanity, such as terrorism, antimicrobial resistance, the threat of pandemics or world poverty.

‘But today I am certain the most important conversation we should be having is about the future of AI. It will dominate what happens with all of these other issues for better or for worse.

‘Is Russian cyber hackers were able to meddle with the 2016 US elections, then what is stopping cyber terrorists from hacking into any future AI controlled power grids, transport systems, banks of military installations.

‘Our government has a responsibility to protect society from potential threats and risks.’