**The Threat of AI Bots: Fake People in the Digital Age**
Few would argue that fake money is a threat to the financial system. If you cannot trust that currency is real, buying and selling gets more difficult, with implications for the entire economy. But not enough attention is given to another threat: A.I. bots on social media pretending to be real people.
Creating Billions of Fake People
“Now it is possible, for the first time in history, to create fake people—to create billions of fake people,” Israeli historian and author Yuval Noah Harari said this week. “Like you interact with somebody online, and you don’t know if it’s a real human being or a bot.”
The Risk to Society
The author of *Sapiens*—a history of humanity that Bill Gates calls one of his favorite books—made the comments while addressing the UN’s AI for Good summit in Geneva. Harari argues that if we allow the proliferation of these fake people, it will have a similar effect on society as fake money has on the financial system. The collapse of trust in distinguishing real humans from fake humans would lead to the downfall of at least free societies, leaving only dictatorships able to manage such a scenario.
Awareness of the Bot Problem
Twitter owner Elon Musk is also aware of the bot problem. He tweeted in March that “only verified accounts will be eligible to be in For You recommendations,” calling it “the only realistic way to address advanced AI bot swarms taking over. It is otherwise a hopeless losing battle.”
The Need for Strict Rules
Harari believes that “very strict rules” need to be established to combat the issue of fake people. He suggests severe consequences for those involved in creating or allowing the presence of fake people on social media platforms, such as lengthy prison sentences. Harari believes that tech giants will rapidly find ways to prevent platforms from being overwhelmed by fake people if faced with such consequences.
Comparison with Counterfeiting Money
Counterfeiting money has always been a problem, which is why governments have enacted strict rules to protect the financial system. Harari notes that until recently, creating fake people was technically impossible, and that’s why specific rules against it don’t exist. However, the rise of advanced AI technology now makes it crucial to establish guidelines and regulations.
Differentiating AI Bots from Humans
Harari emphasizes that he is not calling for laws against the creation of AI bots but rather for rules to prevent them from being presented as real people in public. He believes that offering an AI doctor, for instance, can be extremely helpful as long as it is transparent that the doctor is not a human. The distinction between AI and human entities is crucial for maintaining trust and ensuring that people are aware of who or what they are interacting with.
The threat of AI bots masquerading as real people is a significant concern in the digital age. Yuval Noah Harari and Elon Musk are among those who recognize the danger and call for strict regulations to prevent the collapse of trust in distinguishing between humans and bots. It is vital for tech giants and society as a whole to address this issue and ensure transparency in the online world.