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Has World Economic Forum chair Klaus Schwab said we’ll ‘become extinct’ if we don’t ‘merge with AI’? No, just another bogus headline

IN SHORT: Another day, another absurd claim about Klaus Schwab from disinformation peddler The People’s Voice. This quote, like so many others fact-checking organisations have debunked, is also bogus.

“Klaus Schwab Says Humans Who Refuse To Merge With AI Will Soon Become Extinct,” reads the headline of a story published by The People’s Voice, a notorious disinformation site, on 13 February 2024.

It adds: “World Economic Forum founder Klaus Schwab has warned that humans who refuse to merge with artificial intelligence (AI) will soon find that they have no place in society.”

A month later, the story was posted on social media platform X (formerly Twitter) by prominent British conspiracy theorist and former Brexit Party candidate Jim Ferguson.

It then began to circulate on social media in Nigeria, South Africa and elsewhere – here, here, here, here, here, here and here.

The World Economic Forum (WEF) is a global nonprofit that describes itself as the “international organisation for public-private cooperation”. It was founded by its chairperson Klaus Schwab in 1971.

Artificial intelligence or AI tools use computer algorithms to perform some tasks otherwise done by humans, like answering questions, writing code and creating images and videos.

Africa Check has previously debunked claims by The People’s Voice – previously known as News Punch and Your News Wire here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here.

Like those, the claim that Schwab said people “who refuse to merge with AI” will “become extinct” is entirely made up.


Need for ethical regulation of AI

The People’s Voice claims Schwab issued his warning at the 2024 World Governments Summit.

Schwab did talk about AI and other emerging technology at the summit, held in Dubai, United Arab Emirates from 12 to 14 February.

But instead of saying people who refused to embrace AI would “become extinct”, he stressed the need for the technology to be ethically regulated to ensure it benefitted people and society, instead of causing harm.

He said:

In the “new era”, human well-being will be prioritised through robotics and AI. At the core of this transformation, there is commitment to ensuring that the benefits of technological advancement are equally shared to bridge the digital gap within societies.

Schwab’s full 14-minute speech can be viewed on YouTube. At no point does he say anything like “humans who refuse to merge with AI will soon become extinct”.

The People’s Voice claim is, again, false.

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