Whilst artificial intelligence (AI) may be nothing new when it comes to its usage in the banking and financial sectors, over the last eight months, it has rapidly become more sophisticated. 

This has been exemplified with the astronomical surge in popularity in the AI chatbot app ChatGPT, with its developer – OpenAI – recently hit with a major class-action lawsuit that summarises that the company allegedly stole an ‘unprecedented’ amount of data to fuel the app. 

Clarkson, the law firm which filed the lawsuit last week, has lodged 157 complaints in over 10 plaintiffs stating that OpenAI knowingly stole personal information and private data, “intentionally luring thousands if not millions of children” to ChatGPT. 

Angel Maldonado, CEO and Founder of privacy enhancing commerce platform Empathy.co, believes that it has come as ‘no surprise’ that OpenAI’s ChatGPT was hit with such scrutiny and also highlights that AI’s innovation potential must be harnessed. 

He stated: “It’s no surprise that OpenAI’s ChatGPT has come under scrutiny. The amount of information that AI chatbots can access amounts to an ocean’s worth considering that they have the potential to reach any and all parts of the internet. 

“Whilst AI is an incredible power for innovation, we must harness it in a way that is ethical and human-first.  

“The issue at hand here is that no one was asked if they were happy for OpenAI to use and collect this data – The fact that this information is online does not mean it’s ethical to collect and use without consent. 

“As chatbots have the capability to dig into and play with all available information about any one of the 4.9 billion people using the internet, they may very well be violating consumers’ privacy, right under their noses.”

With such a meteoric rise in such a short space of time, it may have come as no surprise that ChatGPT has run into some early criticism. 

The AI chatbot has become one of if not the fastest-growing apps since its launch in November, amassing five million downloads in its first month and 100 million in its first two months. 

Lead Attorney, Ryan J. Clarkson, alleged that OpenAI stole “essentially, every piece of data exchanged on the internet it could take – without notice to the owners or users of such data”, AI is appearing to be heading towards its first high-profile regulatory and ethical battle.

“There’s no guarantee that personal information revealed by users during their interactions with these AI chatbots, wouldn’t then be forever in the public domain either,” commented Maldonado. 

“Big questions still remain around how this plays into the current GDPR regulations and consumers’ right to be forgotten. It’s hard to tell whether users’ consent and privacy are really factored into the AI that powers chatbots like ChatGPT, but given Open AI’s hazy privacy policies, it’s likely that permission has slipped through the cracks.”

Most recently, OpenAI, alongside Meta, have met with European Commissioner Thierry Breton over the EU’s newly proposed regulatory framework surrounding AI

The ChatGPT developers were also reportedly lobbying to lessen some of the more stringent proposals placed in the ‘AI Act’ as OpenAI stated they should not deem the rapidly developing tech as “high risk” citing intense regulation may cause a dip in its development. 

Despite the Clarkson lawsuit, and the concerns that have been raised about AI in general, Maldonado believes that the tech is “still here to stay” and that ethical AI boils down to knowledge and experience, which will come over time. 

He concluded: “Despite clear ethical concerns, AI is still here to stay. The key to utilising AI ethically comes down to explainability. Businesses that explain the what, why, and how of each recommendation involved in the search process can mitigate the risks of AI implementation. 

“By shifting to AI technology that is “human-centred” or “responsible”, businesses can leverage human abilities to create experiences that eliminate biases and blind spots, ensuring that the customer experience finds a balance between convenience and safety.”