AI ‘Will Cause Real Damage,’ Microsoft Chief Economist Warns

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Artificial intelligence will be dangerous in the hands of unscrupulous people, according to Microsoft Corp. Chief Economist Michael Schwarz.

“I am confident AI will be used by bad actors, and yes it will cause real damage,” Schwarz said during a World Economic Forum panel in Geneva on Wednesday. “It can do a lot damage in the hands of spammers with elections and so on.” 

AI “clearly” must be regulated, he said, but lawmakers should be cautious and wait until the technology causes “real harm.”

Artificial intelligence tools have come under increased scrutiny as their use exploded in recent months following the debut of ChatGPT. Policymakers are trying to pressure companies to implement safeguards around the emerging technology.

“Once we see real harm, we have to ask ourselves the simple question: ‘Can we regulate that in a way where the good things that will be prevented by this regulation are less important?’” Schwarz said. “The principles should be, the benefits from the regulation to our society should be greater than the cost to our society.” 

On Thursday, US Vice President Kamala Harris will meet with the chief executive officers from Microsoft, Alphabet Inc. and OpenAI Inc. to discuss ways to reduce the risk of harm from AI technologies.