Extreme Weather and AI Are the Top Risks in 2024
25 January 2024
Extreme weather and artificial intelligence (AI)-generated misinformation and disinformation are the top two risks facing organisations and individuals in 2024, a report by the World Economic Forum (WEF) has found.
The report highlights the findings from the WEF’s Global Risks Perception Survey (GRPS), which sought the opinion of nearly 1,500 worldwide experts between September and October last year. The insights detail the key global risks facing the world over one-, two- and 10-year periods. Worryingly, only 16% of respondents expect a stable or calm outlook in the next two years, with the remaining 84% anticipating some instability or turbulence.
Extreme Weather Is the Top Risk
Two-thirds (66%) of survey respondents ranked extreme weather as the number one risk in 2024. When asked to estimate the likely impact of risks over the longer term, extreme weather featured highly again, as it was considered the second highest risk in the next two years and the first over 10 years. Overall, WEF’s GRPS paints a worrying picture of several environmental risks, reinforcing the importance of continual efforts to reduce human emissions and address climate change concerns.
“What is needed is a mindset that recognises the full scale of the risk, while maintaining the optimism that we can and will respond in a way to avoid and mitigate the worst risks from occurring,” said Gill Einhorn, head of innovation and transformation at the WEF’s Centre for Nature and Climate.
AI has made it easier for threat actors to spread false information, which can undermine governments and organisations and could create civil unrest. Consequently, AI-generated misinformation and disinformation ranked as the second most impactful risk in 2024 and the first over two years, its highest-ever position. Moreover, “adverse outcomes of AI technologies” featured at number six over the 10-year horizon as the speed of AI deployment outpaces government regulations and leaves organisations and individuals vulnerable.
The cost-of-living crisis featured in the top five risks for 2024 as inflationary pressures remain challenging. Although inflation has begun to ease, conflict in the Middle East could trigger energy hikes or disrupt shipping routes, further hampering supply chains and cost-of-living concerns. Overall, it’s prudent for organisations to continue to brace for economic uncertainty.
WEF’s report points to a volatile risk landscape, so organisations should take appropriate preparedness steps, particularly as it pertains to extreme weather and evolving technologies.
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