Warren Buffett says AI scamming will be the next big ‘growth industry’

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Warren Buffett isn’t jumping on the artificial intelligence bandwagon just yet, warning about the technology’s potential for harm.

“When you think about the potential for scamming people … if I was interested in investing in scamming, it’s gonna be the growth industry of all time and it’s enabled, in a way” by AI, Buffett said at Berkshire Hathaway’s annual shareholder meeting on Saturday. Buffett pointed to the technology’s ability to reproduce realistic and misleading content in an effort to send money to bad actors.

Scammers are known to use AI voice-cloning and deep-fake technology to manipulate videos and images that impersonate an individual’s family and friends to ask for money or personal information.

“Obviously, AI has potential for good things too, 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,” Buffett added.

Warren Buffett walks the floor ahead of the Berkshire Hathaway Annual Shareholders Meeting in Omaha, Nebraska on May 3, 2024. 
David A. Grogen | CNBC

AI has been the talk of Wall Street for more than a year, as investors bet on the technology’s potential to drive higher profits going forward. Stocks such as Nvidia and Meta Platforms have skyrocketed during the AI boom, up 507% and 275%, respectively since the end of 2022.

However, the investing legend admitted he’s not familiar with AI and likened its potential that of the atomic bomb’s during the 20th century.

“I don’t know anything about about AI. That doesn’t mean I deny its existence or importance or anything of the sort,” Buffett said, speaking in a cautious tone. “We let the genie out of the bottle when we developed nuclear weapons and that genie has been doing some terrible things lately, and the power of that genie is what scares the hell out of me.”

“I don’t know any way to get the genie back in the bottle, and AI is somewhat similar. It’s part of the way out of the bottle, and it’s enormously important and it’s going to be done by somebody … whether it’s going to change the future of society, we will find out later,” Buffett added.

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