Warren Buffett compares AI to nuclear weapons, warns of scamming potential

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Warren Buffett took a cautionary stance on artificial intelligence on Saturday at Berkshire Hathaway’s annual meeting, comparing the technology once again to the advent of nuclear weapons and warning about the potential for scams. 

“I don’t know anything about AI,” the billionaire investor and co-founder of Berkshire Hathaway admitted, “but that doesn’t mean I deny its existence or importance or anything of the sort.” 

He reiterated what he said last year: “That we let a genie out of the bottle when we developed nuclear weapons. And that genie has been now doing some terrible things lately. And the power of that genie is, you know, scares the hell out of me. And on the other hand, I don’t know any way to get the genie back in the bottle.” 

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The 93-year-old philanthropist said AI is “somewhat similar.”

“It’s part the way out of the bottle and it’s enormously important and it’s going to be done by somebody so we may wish we’d never seen that genie, or it may do wonderful things,” he said. 

He also talked about the “enormous potential” for scams using AI. 

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“If you can reproduce images I can’t even tell that say ‘I need money,’ you know, ‘It’s your daughter, just had a car crash. I need $50,000 wired.’ I mean, scamming has always been part of the American scene, but this would make me, if I was interested in investing in scamming, it’s going to be the growth industry of all time. And it’s enabled in a way. Obviously, AI has potential for good things too but I don’t know how you, based on the one I saw recently, I practically would send money to myself over and over in some crazy country.”

Warren Buffett, chairman and chief executive officer of Berkshire Hathaway Inc.

He said he didn’t have any advice on how the world should handle AI, “because I don’t think we know how to handle what we did with the nuclear genie. But I do think 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.” 

This weekend’s meeting was the first without Berkshire Hathaway’s vice chairman Charlie Munger, who died last fall at 99. 

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