Generative AI threatens memory of the Holocaust, report warns

Generative AI could be used by malicious actors to seed disinformation and antisemitism around the Holocaust, a new report has warned.

The research from Unesco said that without clear ethical principles around the training of AI models being introduced, the technology could distort the history of the Holocaust inadvertently, but could also be targeted by bad actors to spread misinformation.

The AI models used to power generative AI assistants and chatbots are trained using vast amounts of data, which is often mined from the public internet, but Unesco’s report warns that can include misleading and harmful content and that AI systems, as a result, can inherit human biases and misrepresent information about events and reinforce prejudices.

The report said the Holocaust was particularly susceptible to this risk because of the prevalence of misinformation about the event that circulates online.

It also warned that where there was a lack of data or detail about certain events related to the Holocaust, generative AI tools were prone to inventing events – known as hallucinations – which can further undermine established facts and trust in experts.

Unesco said these issues were of deep concern because many students were now using generative AI tools to help complete their assignments, and therefore they risked being exposed to harmful disinformation.

A number of high-profile assistants have had issues with the results they produce – including Google’s AI-powered Overviews it has been rolling out on search results in the US, which has returned a range of misleading answers that have been flagged by users.

Audrey Azoulay, director-general of Unesco, said: “If we allow the horrific facts of the Holocaust to be diluted, distorted or falsified through the irresponsible use of AI, we risk the explosive spread of antisemitism and the gradual diminution of our understanding about the causes and consequences of these atrocities.

“Implementing Unesco’s Recommendation on the Ethics of AI is urgent so that younger generations grow up with facts, not fabrications.”

Many countries are yet to introduce regulation around AI, but Unesco has urged governments to implement the UN’s recommendations on AI ethic, which calls for human rights to be at the centre of AI development and that advances in AI be based on principles of transparency and fairness, and maintaining human oversight of AI systems.