Rein in the AI ​​revolution through the power of legal accountability

by Ana Lopez

Opinions of contributing entrepreneurs are their own.

In an era of lightning-fast technological progress, ensuring that the development of artificial intelligence (AI) remains under control is critical. As AI-powered chatbots like ChatGPT become increasingly integrated into our daily lives, it’s high time we addressed the potential legal and ethical implications.

And some have. A recent letter signed by Elon Musk, co-founder of OpenAI, Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple, and more than 1,000 other AI experts and funders to call to action for a six-month break in training new models. in turn, Time published an article by Eliezer Yudkowsky, the founder of the field of AI tuning, calling for a much tougher resolution of a permanent global ban and international sanctions against any country pursuing AI research.

The problem with these proposals, however, is that they require the coordination of numerous stakeholders from a wide variety of companies and government figures. Let me make a more modest proposal that is much more in line with our existing methods of curbing potentially threatening developments: legal liability.

By leveraging legal accountability, we can effectively slow down the development of AI and ensure that these innovations are in line with our values ​​and ethics. We can ensure that AI companies themselves promote security and innovate in a way that minimizes the threat they pose to society. We can ensure that AI tools are developed and used ethically and effectively, as I discuss at length in my new book, ChatGPT for Thought Leaders and Content Creators: Unlocking the Potential of Generative AI for Innovative and Effective Content Creation.

Related: AI could replace up to 300 million workers around the world. But the riskiest professions are not what you might expect.

Legal liability: an essential tool to regulate the development of AI

Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act has been around for a long time shielded release internet platforms from liability for content created by users. However, as AI technology becomes more advanced, the line between content creators and content hosts is blurring, raising questions about whether AI-powered platforms like ChatGPT should be retained responsible for the content they produce.

The introduction of legal accountability for AI developers forces companies to prioritize ethical considerations and ensure their AI products operate within the confines of social norms and legal regulations. They will be forced to internalize what economists call negative externalities, that is, negative side effects of products or business activities that affect other parties. A negative externality can be loud music from a nightclub that bothers the neighbors. The threat of legal liability for negative externalities will effectively delay AI development, leaving ample time for reflection and the establishment of robust governance frameworks.

To slow down the rapid, uncontrolled development of AI, it is essential to hold developers and companies accountable for the consequences of their creations. Legal accountability encourages transparency and accountability, requiring developers to prioritize the refinement of AI algorithms, reduce the risks of malicious output, and ensure compliance with legal standards.

For example, an AI chatbot that perpetuates hate speech or misinformation can lead to significant social harm. A more advanced AI tasked with improving a company’s inventory could — if not bound by ethical concerns — sabotage its competitors. By imposing legal liability on developers and companies, we create a powerful incentive for them to invest in fine-tuning the technology to avoid such outcomes.

Legal liability is also much more doable than a six-month break, not to mention a permanent break. It aligns with how we do things in America: instead of letting the government run regular business, we instead allow innovation but penalize the negative consequences of harmful business activities.

The benefits of slowing AI development

Ensuring ethical AI: By slowing down the development of AI, we can consciously integrate ethical principles into the design and implementation of AI systems. This reduces the risk of bias, discrimination and other ethical pitfalls that can have serious social implications.

Avoiding Technological Unemployment: The rapid development of AI has the potential to disrupt labor markets, leading to widespread unemployment. By slowing the pace of AI development, we give labor markets time to adjust and reduce the risk of technological unemployment.

Strengthen regulations: Regulating AI is a complex task that requires a comprehensive understanding of the technology and its implications. Slowing the development of AI will allow robust regulatory frameworks to be established that effectively address the challenges of AI.

Fostering public confidence: Introducing legal accountability to AI development can help increase public confidence in these technologies. By demonstrating a commitment to transparency, accountability and ethical considerations, companies can maintain a positive relationship with the public, paving the way for a responsible and sustainable AI-driven future.

Related: The rise of AI: why legal professionals need to adapt or risk being left behind

Concrete steps to implement legal accountability in AI development

Clarify section 230: Article 230 does not appear to cover AI generated content. The law outlines the term “information content provider” as referring to “any person or entity responsible, in whole or in part, for the creation or development of information provided over the Internet or any other interactive computer service.” The definition of “development” of content “in part” remains somewhat ambiguous, but court rulings have certain that a platform cannot rely on Section 230 for protection if it provides “pre-filled answers”, so that it is “much more than a passive transmitter of information provided by others”. So it is very likely that lawsuits will find that AI-generated content does not fall under Section 230: it would be helpful for those who want a delay in AI development to initiate lawsuits that would allow courts to address this issue. clear. By clarifying that AI-generated content is not exempt from liability, we’re creating a strong incentive for developers to exercise caution and ensure their creations meet ethical and legal standards.

Set up AI governing bodies: In the meantime, governments and private entities should work together to create AI governing bodies that develop guidelines, regulations, and best practices for AI developers. These bodies can help monitor AI development and ensure compliance with established standards. This would help manage legal accountability and facilitate innovation within ethical boundaries.

Encourage collaboration: Promoting collaboration between AI developers, regulators and ethicists is essential to creating comprehensive regulatory frameworks. By working together, stakeholders can develop guidelines that strike a balance between innovation and responsible AI development.

Inform the public: Public awareness and understanding of AI technology are essential for effective regulation. By educating the public about the benefits and risks of AI, we can foster informed debates and discussions that drive the development of balanced and effective regulatory frameworks.

Developing liability insurance for AI developers: Insurance companies should provide liability insurance for AI developers, encourage them to adopt best practices and adhere to established guidelines. This approach helps reduce the financial risks associated with potential legal liability and promote responsible AI development.

Related: Elon Musk questions Microsoft’s decision to fire AI Ethics Team


The increasing prominence of AI technologies such as ChatGPT highlights the urgent need to address the ethical and legal implications of AI development. By using legal accountability as a tool to slow the development of AI, we can create an environment that fosters responsible innovation, prioritizes ethical considerations, and minimizes the risks associated with these emerging technologies. It is essential that developers, companies, regulators and the public come together to chart a responsible course for AI development that protects the interests of humanity and promotes a sustainable, just future.

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