Doomsday Clock adds AI to its list of existential threats alongside nuclear danger and climate change, emphasizing its global impact and risks.
Atomic scientists updated the infamous Doomsday Clock on January 23 to reflect the planet’s impending danger, which was set only 90 seconds from midnight due to a variety of factors, including artificial intelligence (AI). The announcement highlights the gravity of the many threats we confront, such as advanced artificial intelligence, nuclear war, and climate crises.
Climate change, nuclear threats, and disruptive technologies are among the “existential risks” to the planet and humankind that determine the clock’s ticking. On the clock, midnight denotes an “apocalyptic” situation. The 90-second mark is therefore considered “a moment of historic danger.”
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Doomsday clock statement
The annual assessment of how close humanity is to extinction was released on Tuesday by the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists. It mentioned the increasing severity of climate-related disasters, the threat posed by generative artificial intelligence, the attack on Israel on Oct. 7, the war in Gaza, as well as the nuclear threat posed by Russia’s war on Ukraine.
Today, the Bulletin’s Science and Security Board once again sets the #DoomsdayClock at 90 seconds to midnight.
Humanity continues to face an unprecedented level of danger.
— Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists (@BulletinAtomic) January 23, 2024
The report makes note of the fact that numerous nations have already started to acknowledge the issues and have started implementing measures to control and lessen the negative effects of technology.
China was the first nation to enact meaningful AI regulations in August 2023.
While #AI governance is in the making, great powers won't shy away from utilizing AI in their geopolitical rivalries and tailoring regulation to augment their power at home and abroad.#China's AI Regulations & How They Get Made by @mattsheehan88 https://t.co/CDHWNTdWaF
— Horizons (@Horizons_CIRSD) August 29, 2023
The European Union passed its own interim AI regulations in December 2023; member states will decide whether to adopt them.
EU AI Act: first regulation on artificial intelligence | News | European Parliament https://t.co/yhfzbDoVmf
— Mark Coeckelbergh (@MCoeckelbergh) June 14, 2023
Despite not yet having passed any formal legislation, the United States has become a center for AI development over the past year. Six new AI safety and security standards were established by an executive order signed by President Joe Biden in October 2023.
However, The Bulletin also noted that the ability of authoritarian regimes to monitor the movements and liberties of their citizens has accelerated due to artificial intelligence and other information technologies.
Ahead of a significant global election season in 2024, concerns have also been raised about AI’s potential to influence political elections through the dissemination of false information and fake news.
Bulletin Group CEO speaks
Rachel Bronson, the CEO of the Bulletin Group, stated that last year, they expressed amplified concern by moving the clock to 90 seconds to midnight. According to the CEO, this is the closest to a global catastrophe it has ever been. He continued by saying that the risks from last year continue with unabated veracity and will continue to shape this year.
The advocacy group began using a clock in 1947 to represent the possibility, even the certainty, that someone would take action to end humankind. The time between now and midnight at the end of the Cold War was 17 minutes. The group switched from counting down the minutes until midnight to counting down the seconds in the last few years to address the rapid changes occurring in the world. According to the advocacy group, if governments and people banded together, history could be reversed. It named several strong nations capable of doing so, including the US, China, and Russia.