AI-Derived Misinformation Tops List of Global Risks for 2024, Surpassing Climate Change and War

DAVOS, Switzerland — Concerns over the role of artificial intelligence (AI) in disrupting election outcomes have taken the top spot on the list of global risks for 2024, according to a new report released on Wednesday. The World Economic Forum’s “Global Risks Report 2024” revealed that AI-derived misinformation and disinformation, and its potential for societal polarization, ranked higher than climate change, war, and economic weakness among the biggest risks over the next two years.

In a year filled with elections around the world, the report highlighted the potential of AI to influence large populations of voters unlike anything seen before. Carolina Klint, chief commercial officer for Europe at consultancy Marsh McLennan, emphasized the importance of monitoring this development.

Looking ahead, the report indicated a shift in risks for the next decade, with extreme weather conditions and critical changes to the political world order taking center stage. Two-thirds of the experts, policymakers, and industry leaders surveyed anticipate a new multipolar or fragmented world to emerge.

The report, produced in collaboration with Zurich Insurance Group, surveyed over 1,400 global risk experts, policymakers, and industry leaders in September 2023 to gather their insights on the biggest global concerns. The authors of the report stressed that these combined risks are pushing the world’s adaptative capacity to its limits. They called on leaders to prioritize global cooperation and establish guardrails for the most disruptive emerging risks.

Misinformation and disinformation, extreme weather events, societal polarization, cyber insecurity, and interstate armed conflict were cited as the most significant risks over the next two years. The report also identified extreme weather events, critical changes to earth systems, biodiversity loss and ecosystem collapse, natural resource shortages, and misinformation and disinformation as the most likely risks over the next 10 years. Adverse outcomes from AI technologies were also highlighted as a longer-term concern.

The report addresses the same issues that will be discussed at the World Economic Forum’s annual summit in Davos next week, where global leaders will convene to address pressing issues such as ongoing conflicts, the economy, and technology under the tagline “Rebuilding Trust.”

As countries around the world gear up for a historic year of elections, attention will be focused on Taiwan, the United States, India, Russia, South Africa, and Mexico. These elections carry significant consequences for global stability.

The report’s findings align with a separate 2024 global risks report recently released by Eurasia Group, naming the upcoming U.S. election as the top risk for the year. “Ungoverned AI” was also listed among the top five risks by the consultancy.