First appeared in Boston Herald
By Aron Solomon
In our increasingly digital world, artificial intelligence (AI) has made a huge impact. AI is both exciting and, to be honest, deeply troubling, at the same time. Anyone who doesn’t temper their hope for AI with some of the harsh realities on the horizon hasn’t been paying attention.
AI has the potential to bring about incredible advancements in various fields, but it also poses some important legal challenges. One big issue we’re facing today is the need for regulations that strike a balance between innovation and ethics, making sure AI is used responsibly. As we look at the legal implications of AI and its potential problems, it’s clear that it needs, without delay, a strong legal framework.
AI has been growing rapidly in recent years and has transformed industries such as healthcare, finance, and transportation. But here’s the rub, as Shakespeare would have said: legal systems haven’t kept up with AI’s lightning-fast development.
As a result, we already see gaps in accountability and oversight. One major concern is algorithmic bias, where AI systems unintentionally perpetuate existing prejudices and inequalities. For example, biased AI algorithms in hiring processes can discriminate against certain groups, making social disparities even worse – and because of how AI works, we probably won’t notice until the practice is widespread.
Another baseline legal aspect of AI that we need to consider is privacy and data protection. As Attorney Sandra Choi points out, “AI systems frequently depend on collecting personal data from individuals without their explicit consent or knowledge, which raises significant privacy concerns when the data is mishandled or used improperly.”
Legislatures and their lawmakers around the world are trying to find the right balance between data-driven innovation and safeguarding people’s privacy rights. Strong data protection laws and regulations are crucial to make sure personal information isn’t exploited or compromised – hence the recent temporary block of ChatGPT in Western Europe.
As AI systems become more autonomous, the question of liability and accountability gets a lot trickier, and makers of scary Netflix movies get more grist for their creative mills.
When AI-powered technologies cause harm or make mistakes, it’s hard to figure out who should be held responsible. Should it be the developer, the operator, or even the AI system itself? The lack of clear legal standards and frameworks to address these issues can undermine public trust and slow down the widespread adoption of AI innovations. What’s worse is that, in practice, we’re only going to be able to assign blame forensically, after the damage is done.
AI’s ability to create original works brings up new challenges in intellectual property law. When AI algorithms generate music, art, or written content, questions arise about who owns the rights to these creations. Should it be the developer of the AI system, the user who trained the model, or even the AI itself?
The legal community is grappling with these questions, trying to establish a fair and equitable framework to govern AI-generated content. If we think things are complicated today when someone like Ed Sheeran has to defend a copyright claim that he stole a song, imagine when we have to track an entire string of ownership and creation, most of which wasn’t directly human.
What’s needed is an increased urgency to tackle the legal issues surrounding AI. While many governments worldwide are starting to realize the urgent need for comprehensive regulatory frameworks, it’s critically important to set clear guidelines and ethical principles for AI development, deployment, and usage.
Collaborative efforts involving policymakers, legal experts, technologists, and ethicists are essential to strike the right balance between promoting innovation and safeguarding the public interest.
If we do this well, we can protect individuals, encourage innovation, and ensure accountability. If we don’t, we are in for an unnecessarily complicated and profoundly uncertain future.
About Aron Solomon
A Pulitzer Prize-nominated writer, Aron Solomon, JD, is the Chief Legal Analyst for Esquire Digital and the Editor-in-Chief for Today’s Esquire. He has taught entrepreneurship at McGill University and the University of Pennsylvania, and was elected to Fastcase 50, recognizing the top 50 legal innovators in the world. Aron has been featured in Forbes, CBS News, CNBC, USA Today, ESPN, TechCrunch, The Hill, BuzzFeed, Fortune, Venture Beat, The Independent, Fortune China, Yahoo!, ABA Journal, Law.com, The Boston Globe, YouTube, NewsBreak, and many other leading publications.