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TechScape: Could AI-generated content be dangerous for our health?

From hyperrealistic deepfakes to videos that not only hijack our attention but also our emotions, tech seems increasingly full of ‘cognitohazards’. Neal Stephenson’s 1992 novel Snow Crash is the book that launched a thousand startups.

It was the first book to use the Hindu term avatar to describe a virtual representation of a person, it coined the term “metaverse”, and was one of Mark Zuckerberg’s pieces of required reading for new executives at Facebook a decade before he changed the focus of the entire company to attempt to build Stephenson’s fictional world in reality.

The plot revolves around an image that, when viewed in the metaverse, hijacks the viewer’s brain, maiming or killing them. In the fiction of the world, the image crashes the brain, presenting it with an input that simply cannot be correctly processed.

It’s a recurring idea in science fiction. Perhaps the first clear example came four years earlier, in British SF writer David Langford’s short story BLIT, which imagines a terrorist attack using a “basilisk”, images which contain “implicit programs which the human equipment cannot safely run”. In a sequel to that story, published in Nature in 1999, Langford draws earlier parallels, even pulling in Monty Python’s Flying Circus, “with its famous sketch about the World’s Funniest Joke that causes all hearers to laugh themselves to death”.

The collective fiction project SCP coined the name for such ideas: a cognitohazard. An idea, the very thinking of which can be harmful.

And one question that deserves to be taken increasingly seriously is: are cognitohazards real?

Read the whole article here.

  Quelle: (10.04.2024 - LW)
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Österreichische Akademie der ÄrzteSwiss Tropical and Public Health InstituteAlumni Club Medizinische Universität WienCenter of ExcellenceAnästhesie in Entwicklungsländern e. V.Österreichisches Rotes KreuzÄrztekammer für WienAGEM - Arbeitsgemeinschaft Ethnologie und Medizin