Warren Buffett compares misused AI to nuclear weapons

Investing guru Warren Buffett recently raised his concern about the rising misuse of deep fake artificial intelligence (AI) and compared the emerging technology with ‘nukes’. The billionaire founder of Berkshire Hathaway told tens of thousands of shareholders during an annual meeting that a deepfake video of his created by AI “scares the hell out of him” and that the technology was like a “nuclear weapons genie.”

The fake video of the 93-year-old was reportedly convincing enough that the philanthropist himself said he could imagine it tricking him into sending money overseas. He drew attention to the possibility of this technology being used for large-scale financial scams.

“As someone who doesn’t understand a damn thing about it, it has enormous potential for good and enormous potential for harm and I just don’t know how that plays out,” he said.

Buffett continued: “Last year I said that we let a genie out of the bottle when we, when we developed nuclear weapons, and that Genie has been doing some terrible things lately. And the power of that genie is what, you know, scares the hell out of me. And then I don’t know any way to get the genie back in the bottle. And AI is somewhat similar.”

“I don’t know anything about AI… but that doesn’t mean I deny its existence or importance,” Warren Buffett said during the 2024 Berkshire Hathaway annual meeting. pic.twitter.com/NGaYbUHeWP

— unusual_whales (@unusual_whales) May 5, 2024

Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway holds substantial stakes in Apple and Microsoft, two leading companies in the generative AI sector. Despite this, the well-known value investor remains wary of potential misuses.

Warren Buffett’s connections to AI

Buffett recognized the “amazing” capabilities of AI. He experimented with OpenAI’s ChatGPT when former Microsoft CEO Bill Gates introduced it to him three months ago. However, the nonagenarian added: “When something can do all kinds of things I get a little bit worried because I know we won’t be able to un-invent it. We did invent—for a very, very good reason—the atom bomb in World War II, and it was enormously important that we did so. But is it good for the next 200 years of the world that the ability….has been unleashed?”

Charlie Munger, Berkshire’s vice chairman, has been skeptical towards AI. He stated: “I think old-fashioned intelligence works pretty well.”

“There won’t be anything in AI that replaces the G,” Buffett added. “I’ll state that unqualifiedly.”

In terms of stocks, Buffett said: “It’s not going to tell me which stocks to buy or anything of the sort.

“It can tell me every stock that meets a certain criteria, or a criteria, in three seconds or something. But it’s got decided limitations in some ways.”

Featured image: Canva / USA International Trade Administration

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Suswati Basu