Artificial Intelligence: The Fourth Industrial Revolution and Regulatory Challenges

The challenges by AI are not only provocative and disruptive, but also dynamic and evolving. This makes the regulatory space not only arduous, but also dextrous in placating all the stakeholders.
DSK Legal - Vikrant Singh Negi
DSK Legal - Vikrant Singh Negi

Today, in the technological revolution, our way of life, work, and ability to relate to one another is getting fundamentally altered, as technology blurs the lines between the physical, digital, and biological domains. The First Industrial Revolution used water and steam power to mechanise production and transform agrarian societies to greater industrialization. The Second Industrial Revolution was driven by electricity, and involved expansion of industries and mass production. The Third used electronics and information technology to automate production.

It is apparent that the current revolution, heralded as the fourth industrial revolution, is navigating the possibilities of billions of people connected through mobile devices with unprecedented access to data/ information. The people will get the benefit of emerging technologies in the field of Artificial Intelligence (AI), autonomous vehicles, 3-D printing, robotics, virtual reality, the Internet of Things, nanotech, materials science, energy storage and quantum computing. According to Professor Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum and author of The Fourth Industrial Revolution, the uniqueness of this revolution is that its speed is unprecedented with its scale, scope and complexity evolving globally at an exponential pace and disrupting every aspect of life. It is clear that these monumental changes will transform almost all systems of production, management, and governance.   

Theodore Roosevelt, the US President once said, “Ours is a government of liberty, by, through and under the law. No man is above it, and no man is below it.” Most aspects of our lives are governed by law, as the same is used to bind people and create a community. In modern governance, laws are created at national, state and municipal levels to protect citizens and prevent abuse or exploitation by individuals, organizations, or even the governments. Based on the laws that are created, rules and regulations are framed for efficacious functioning of our day to day lives. 

While the inception of conceptual Artificial Intelligence (AI) dates back to the era of Alan Turing, when his machine ‘Bombe’ decoded the German code ‘enigma’ in World War II, it was the Stanford University professor John McCarthy who defined Artificial Intelligence as “the science and engineering of making intelligent machines”. In 1997, the IBM supercomputer ‘Deep Blue’, using AI technology, defeated the world champion chess player in a match. Since then, although AI experts have been commenting on the prevalence of this niche field, it was concentrated in the academia circles and in the B2B space. However, enhanced technology and its immediate impact on reducing costs and increasing revenues for businesses, has enabled the adoption of AI ubiquitously. So much so, that in 2022, the global AI market was said to be USD 119 billion and is expected to hit USD 1.5 trillion by 2030. 

The last few months have been exceptional in the field of generative AI, impacting the world at a global scale and becoming accessible to common people.  Parallels are drawn with ‘Google Search’ that transformed our lives as access to information was made readily available. What Google has been to search, the present wave of Open AI can become for deep learning. It has drawn an incredible amount of attention and curiosity as it extends from AI in general, to the class of technologies that roots and supports the AI chatbot in particular.

ChatGPT (Chat Generative Pre-trained Transformer) is a language model that has been trained on massive volumes of internet texts and imitates human text, which then provides solutions to the queries it is asked. These models, called large language models (LLMs), can generate text on a seemingly endless range of topics.

Within a week of ChatGPT being publicly available, over a million people downloaded it. The general consensus after using it, and experiencing its intuitive user interface and overall effectiveness, was that the future is arriving, and experience is ‘surreal’. Since its introduction, ChatGPT has demonstrated its vast capabilities viz., enabling students to write college essays or successfully pass MBA exams, drafting professional emails and other literature, which would otherwise require application of human mind. The easy access, availability and usage makes ChatGPT unique, as never before in history has such a transformational technology been made available to the masses.  

Policymakers and privacy advocates, though limited and far outnumbered by their opponents, are concerned about the manner in which ChatGPT accesses information and mines it to bring the best possible outputs or solutions for its users. Also, given that most of the information is shared voluntarily by users, there is no serious debate on the impact on right to privacy. The last few months have demonstrated that individuals, in their pursuit for better solutions/ answers, are volunteering information which otherwise would be considered confidential, and its disclosures would raise serious privilege concerns and, in certain cases, even breach of non-disclosure agreements with their employers. 

Though there is an ongoing debate concerning data privacy and copyright issues, not much is talked about its use in the context of unethical activities and its abuse of law. The ability of ChatGTP to quickly provide ready to use answers that can be applied to a vast number of different context data also makes this platform alluring for criminal activities. Further, the speed and the scale of it creating messages to target specific individuals or groups can be used to mislead potential victims into placing their trust in the hands of criminals. The European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Cooperation (Europol) experts have identified use of ChatGPT platform for the purpose of fraud, social engineering, disinformation campaigns and for various cyber-crime activities as a matter of critical concern. ChatGPT’s ability to draft realistic texts without typos is so compelling, and its coherence is so authentic and persuasive, that make it a propitious tool for phishing purposes. Its ability to produce authentic sounding text at speed and scale can be an ideal platform for propaganda and disinformation purposes, as it allows users to generate and disburse motivated messages easily, and to specifically targeted groups.

The use of AI will also profoundly impact global security, warfare, and the nature of conflict. Technological innovation has always played a critical role in warfare, and modern conflicts are going to be increasingly “hybrid” in nature. They will combine traditional battlefield techniques with cyberwarfare, and blur the distinction between what is a passive or aggressive act of war.  Another major concern is that the new technologies give easier access to autonomous or biological weapons to individuals and small groups who have the ability of causing mass harm.  Although this vulnerability will lead to new fears, at the same time advances in technology will create the potential to reduce the scale or impact of violence, through the development of new modes of protection.

The challenges by AI are not only provocative and disruptive, but also dynamic and evolving. This makes the regulatory space not only arduous, but also dexterous in placating all the stakeholders. Ultimately, the ability of laws and regulations to adapt and craft bespoke responses to software development and business operations will be critical for smooth functioning. Also, the new regulations will have to factor protection of fundamental rights in relation to biometric applications, haptic technology and AI polygraphs, as they integrate into our lives without us recognising the pitfalls. The only thing that is apparent is that the response by the regulators and policy makers to the challenge has to be integrated and comprehensive, involving all stakeholders of the global polity, from the public and private sectors, to academia and civil society. Only then will one be able to create laws and systems to leverage the benefits of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. 

Vikrant Singh Negi is a Partner at DSK Legal.

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