Artificial Intelligence (AI) has transcended science fiction and niche research to become an integral part of our daily lives. Technologies like ChatGPT and Bard chatbots have democratized AI, but the full extent of its impact is yet to be realized. In the year 2024, several crucial debates are expected to dominate discussions surrounding AI.
Deepfakes and elections
Generative AI programs have made it effortless to create convincing fake texts and images, giving rise to the infamous “deepfakes.” In the approaching 2024 elections, such deepfake content might play a significant role in swaying public opinion and potentially inciting unrest. Experts caution that trust in electoral processes, such as the US presidential race and European Parliament elections, hinges on the cybersecurity measures in place to counter deepfake threats. The effectiveness of policies implemented by platforms like Google’s YouTube and Meta’s Facebook and Instagram to flag AI-generated content will face its first substantial test this year.
Ownership of AI-generated content
The development of generative AI tools involves training models with vast amounts of data, often sourced from the internet without explicit consent from original creators. This practice has led to disputes over copyright violations. Prominent cases, such as The New York Times suing OpenAI and Microsoft for using their articles and American novelists suing OpenAI, including John Grisham and Jonathan Franzen, could set legal precedents in 2024. These lawsuits may prompt a reevaluation of copyright laws and practices in the era of AI.
Power dynamics in AI
As AI technology advances, the complexity and cost of developing and training models increase. This trend raises concerns about the concentration of expertise and resources in the hands of a select few tech companies. Digital rights activists argue that this concentration of power, encompassing infrastructure, computing power, and data, underscores a longstanding issue in the tech industry. The influence wielded by a handful of private companies over AI’s societal impact is a matter of concern as AI integrates further into people’s lives.
Enforcing AI laws
Recognizing the need for governance in AI, the European Union (EU) took a significant step in December 2023 by agreeing on the AI Act, the world’s first comprehensive set of specific AI laws. In 2024, the spotlight shifts to Brussels, where regulators will be tasked with enforcing these rules. Expectations run high, but debates will inevitably revolve around the practicalities and adjustments required to ensure these new laws are effective. The devil, as they say, is in the details, and both the EU and the US are likely to engage in protracted discussions over the implementation of these regulations.
AI has reached a watershed moment, akin to the introduction of the iPhone in 2007, marking a transformative shift in how we interact with technology. In 2024, the debates surrounding AI will be instrumental in determining its impact on society. The proliferation of deepfake technology raises concerns about electoral integrity, with the role of social media companies in combatting this threat under scrutiny. The question of ownership in the age of AI-generated content will be decided in courts, potentially reshaping copyright laws. Meanwhile, the concentration of AI power among tech giants necessitates careful consideration of its implications. Finally, the enforcement of AI laws, exemplified by the EU’s AI Act, will be a crucial test of regulatory effectiveness. As the AI landscape evolves, society’s ability to navigate these debates will play a pivotal role in shaping its future relationship with artificial intelligence.