Eroding communication rights top list of global risks in 2024 and beyond
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Eroding communication rights top list of global risks in 2024 and beyond

Videos of Elon Musk promoting dubious investments. Popular news anchors advertising all manner of products. Seemingly plausible news articles bearing bylines of known journalists.

Welcome to the world of AI-enabled misinformation and disinformation that has rapidly spiraled into the new normal.

Over 11,000 business leaders in 113 economies responding to a survey by the World Economic Forum have ranked two dimensions of communication rights among the top five global risks in 2024 and over the next two years.

The twin ills of misinformation and disinformation are defined in the Global Risks Report 2024 as “persistent false information (deliberate or otherwise) widely spread through media networks, shifting public opinion in a significant way towards distrust in facts and authority.”

The outcomes include the possibility of radical disruption of electoral processes, a deepening of polarization, and risk of State repression and erosion of rights.

According to the report, “misinformation and disinformation has risen rapidly in rankings to first place for the two-year time frame, and the risk is likely to become more acute as elections in several economies take place this year.”

The report’s mapping of the current risk landscape places technology, an element of communication rights, at the top of the risk categories ladder.

 

Specifically, respondents selected AI-generated misinformation and disinformation, and cyberattacks as two among the top five risks “most likely to present a material crisis on a global scale.”

To illustrate, one is no longer certain that videos of public figures appearing in the media are real or deep fakes. Some are benign, but others have real-world consequences.

There is reason for concern the world over.

In Argentina for example, the government has publicized intent to dissolve the Media Public Defender’s Office, that agency of the legislative branch that defends freedom of expression and the right of people to be informed.

The Office is an institutional mechanism with a mandate to protect communication rights. It receives and acts on public complaints about media misinformation, disinformation, and abuse of rights.

Just concluded Parliamentary debate has resolved not to repeal the articles in the law that enabled the Office to be established. Intense lobbying from local and international allies contributed to this outcome.

The global risk report serves as a warning.

As far as communication rights are concerned, vigilance is crucial to protect all the constituent elements everywhere.

Advocacy to State regulators wherever threats arise is a good place to begin. Pressure to tech sector duty bearers is another, to guarantee that developments in artificial intelligence are driven first and foremost by public interest.

WACC’s Latin America region has been among the organizations warning of the attack on communication rights posed by efforts to dissolve the Media Public Defender’s Office in Argentina.

Photo: Gene Brutty on Unsplash

1 Comment
  • DR. Doreen Spence
    Posted at 20:07h, 16 February

    It is a scary world that we have become! Humans need to practice love! We accept colonization as a way of being.
    AI is another way of eroding our basic human Rights as People. We need to become more proactive and react to issues that affect each and every one of us. Our environment is a major concern, we have fires, floods , volcanos and extreme heat waves and our air is polluted and Canadians seem to be asleep.