(Bloomberg) -- German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier called for better digital literacy in society to combat dangers that the rapid adoption of artificial intelligence pose to democracy.

People should be better equipped to scrutinize the answers that AI provides, and to recognize when AI has manipulated texts and images or created them outright, Steinmeier said. 

That’s becoming increasingly urgent at a time when disinformation can be generated and spread with incredible speed, sowing fears and confusion in the public, discrediting science and destabilizing financial markets, Steinmeier said.

Societies should develop ethical and legal frameworks to watch over AI, whether it’s being used to help with decision-making processes or for people to uncover instances when it’s being used maliciously, he said.

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“Neither the AI nor the companies operating it are democratically elected,” Steinmeier said in remarks prepared for delivery at a dinner at Schloss Bellevue in Berlin, the German head of state’s official residence.

While liberal democracies may recognize these potential dangers, there are also authoritarian and “libertarian-technocratic” powers in the world that see matters differently, the German president said. “That’s all the more reason for us to be clear in our stance,” he added.

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Steinmeier said he doesn’t expect AI to bring about the end of democracy or even to lead to a “minimal state.” That’s because the decision-making process in a democracy involves a lot more than relying on data and the patterns of the past. 

Rather, members of a democracy need to gather knowledge and work through a variety of opinions to reach a collective solution to problems, he said.

“We’ve been warned that potentially uncontrollable risks are coming our way,” Steinmeier said. “And that deserves our attention.”

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