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UNESCO worried AI might distort Holocaust memory

In this post:

  • A UNESCO report raises fears AI may obliterate the correct history of the Holocaust.
  • Young people are at risk due to their high exposure to AI products.
  • UNESCO has called for urgent implementation of ethical principles.

UNESCO has raised concerns that generative AI may distort the history of the Holocaust if AI developers do not apply ethical standards. In a report released on Monday, UNICEF warned about the potential misuse of generative AI by bad actors.

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The UNESCO report warns that bad actors may use the technology to spread disinformation, misinformation, and misleading content about the Holocaust.

Young people are vulnerable to wrong information

The report, published in conjunction with the World Jewish Congress warns that young people are more at risk of receiving distorted information due to their high exposure to emerging technologies like AI.

This comes as reports also suggest that 80% of young people between the ages of 10 and 24 years use AI for various tasks like school assignments, which increases their chances of accessing distorted information.

“If we allow the horrific facts of the Holocaust to be diluted, distorted or falsified through the irresponsible use of AI, we risk the explosive spread of antisemitism and gradual diminution of our understanding about the causes and consequences of these atrocities.”

UNESCO director general Audrey Azoulay.

The report also highlights that AI has a strong propensity to “oversimplify complex history, privileging a narrow range of sources and a small selection of events.” For instance, about 60% to 80% of AI-powered search engines’ top image results show only one Holocaust site, the Auschwitz-Birkenau.

UNESCO calls for action to enforce ethics

The report maintains that AI can perpetuate existing biases, and the Holocaust will not be spared from these AI biases. Already, there is a prevalence of disinformation about the Holocaust, according to UNESCO, which can worsen due to generative AI use.

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Azoulay highlighted the importance of enforcing ethical standards to protect young people from distorted information.

“Implementing UNESCO’s Recommendation on Ethics of AI is urgent so that younger generations grow up with facts, and not fabrications.”

Azoulay.

The report highlights that AI models like OpenAI’s ChatGPT and Google’s Bard, now Gemini, have hallucinated about the Holocaust, detailing events that never happened. According to UNESCO, these models have “fabricated the concept of the Holocaust by drowning campaigns in which the Nazis drowned Jews in rivers and lakes.”

AI models have also created false quotes to support these distorted narratives. In light of these incidences, UNESCO called for a multi-stakeholder approach to address the challenge. One of the solutions is speedy implementation of the Recommendation on Ethics of AI which was adopted by member states in 2021.

UNESCO also urged tech companies to respect principles of fairness, transparency, human rights, and due diligence. Eight tech firms signed a commitment to the UNESCO director general in February, committing themselves to apply an ethical approach in developing their AI models.


Cryptopolitan reporting by Enacy Mapakame

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