Risks of AI and practicing responsible use

SkillsCategory
13 min read
Amy K

Artificial Intelligence (AI) including chatbots and large language models (LLMs) like BARD and ChatGPT are becoming increasingly popular, and while they offer numerous benefits, it's essential to be aware of the potential risks and challenges they present. It is important to be aware that this technology is still in its early stages of development and its effectiveness and accuracy may vary depending on the circumstances.  

Disclaimer: This is not intended to be legal advice; rather, by being aware of these issues, we can use AI more effectively and responsibly. This content is for informational purposes only; it does not represent any affiliation, endorsement or sponsorship with the third parties listed.

Inaccurate or misleading information 

When using chatbots, AI tools and large language models, be prepared for inaccuracies, biases, or other limitations in the AI-generated content. While AI is designed to provide helpful and accurate information, they can sometimes generate responses that are misleading or incorrect. This is particularly concerning when users rely on chatbots for critical information, such as medical advice or legal guidance. 

To minimize the risk of receiving inaccurate information, it's important to use AI as a supplementary tool rather than a primary source of information. When in doubt, consult with a professional or conduct additional research to verify the information provided by the chatbot. Continuously monitor AI output and refine your usage to improve its effectiveness and minimize potential risks. 

Bias in AI 

A significant risk associated with AI is the presence of biases within the data AI tools are trained on. As these AI systems learn from vast amounts of text data, they may unintentionally absorb and propagate biases present in the texts, potentially leading to discriminatory behavior. This includes both text and image-based AI tools.  

Numerous models have been shown to generate discriminatory responses related to gender, race and minority groups. To combat this issue, AI developers are working on techniques to identify and reduce biases in AI systems. 

It is important for users to be aware of these potential biases and approach AI interactions with a critical eye. Be sure to verify information provided by an AI-powered chatbot, especially if it touches on sensitive topics or controversial issues. 

To minimize biases in AI-generated content and avoid perpetuating stereotypes or misinformation, users should craft prompts that encourage balanced, fair and unbiased responses. Monitor AI-generated output for potentially harmful content and implement content filters to prevent inappropriate responses. 

Continuously stay informed on ethical AI use, keeping up with emerging issues and research related to AI bias. 

Privacy concerns 

Another concern associated with AI tools and chatbots is the potential for privacy breaches. When users interact with chatbots, for example, it's possible that they might share personal information, which could be stored and potentially misused. As a result, it's crucial to ensure that the AI systems you're using have robust privacy policies in place and store your data securely. 

To protect your privacy, look for AI tools/chatbots that offer end-to-end encryption and store data on secure servers. Additionally, be cautious about the information you share with AI tools, especially if you're unsure about their privacy practices. 
 
These models require large amounts of data for training, including personal data that may be obtained from licensed or publicly available datasets. This can lead to data leakage, causing many companies to ban the use of AI due to privacy concerns. To address this issue, clear policies should be established for collecting and storing personal data, and data anonymization should be implemented to handle privacy ethically. If you do not agree for your data and information being used in this way, choose to opt-out whenever possible, and ensure that local laws, restrictions and guidelines are being followed. 

Ensuring data privacy 

Data privacy is a critical aspect of responsible AI usage. Avoid sharing sensitive or personally identifiable information with AI models. Use privacy settings in applications that involve user data to protect personal information. Be transparent about AI usage with users or customers, clearly communicating potential data privacy concerns. Stay updated on and follow applicable data protection regulations to ensure compliance and maintain user trust. 

Do not enter passwords or sensitive information. Be cautious about sharing confidential information such as company code, medical records, or legal agreements with chatbots, as this could inadvertently expose your data and confidential data. 

Plagiarism and intellectual property concerns 

As chatbots and large language models become increasingly capable of generating human-like text, it's important to address the issue of plagiarism and intellectual property (IP) infringement. AI-generated content, although impressive, can sometimes inadvertently reproduce existing text or ideas, raising concerns about originality and potential legal implications. 

AI-generated content can sometimes inadvertently resemble existing text, leading to unintentional plagiarism. This can occur when the AI model has been trained on a vast dataset that includes the original text, causing it to generate similar phrases or ideas without the user's knowledge. As a result, it's crucial to be vigilant when using AI-generated content to ensure that it is original and does not infringe upon the rights of others. 

To minimize the risk of plagiarism in AI-generated content, consider the following best practices: 

Use plagiarism detection tools 

Utilize plagiarism detection software to scan AI-generated content for similarities to existing texts. These tools can help identify potential issues and ensure that the content you're using is original. Here are a few tools to get you started: 

Attribute sources 

If you choose to use AI-generated content that is based on or inspired by existing works, make sure to properly attribute the original source. This not only demonstrates respect for the original creator's IP rights but also promotes transparency and ethical content use. 

Stay informed about IP laws 

Be aware of the intellectual property laws and regulations in your jurisdiction, and ensure that your use of AI-generated content complies with these legal requirements. This may involve obtaining necessary permissions or licenses. 

AI companies often train their systems using copyrighted text or images that users might not want to be used in this way. Artists, writers, and creators may be concerned about their copyrighted work being used without their permission nor compensation. AI developers and users should be aware of intellectual property rights and seek proper permissions or licenses before using copyrighted materials in AI training.  

If you do not agree with your work or information being used to train AI, opt out when possible. One place to search if your text or images have been used to train and opt-out is at https://haveibeentrained.com/

Potential to cause real-world harm 

As AI chatbots and large language models become increasingly integrated into our daily lives, it is crucial to consider the potential real-world harm that can arise from misuse or unintended consequences. While AI has the potential to greatly benefit society, it can also lead to negative outcomes when not managed responsibly. 

Misinformation and disinformation 

AI models can generate highly convincing but misleading or false content, which can be difficult for users to discern from accurate information. This can lead to the propagation of false news, conspiracy theories, or harmful advice, potentially causing real-world harm by influencing public opinion or decision-making. To mitigate this risk, critically evaluate information provided by chatbots and large language models, and verify their output through reputable sources. Use critical thinking, research, and best practices in identifying mis/disinformation to help distinguish between accurate and misleading information. Do not knowingly spread misinformation and disinformation. 

Manipulation and deepfakes 

AI technology has the potential to create highly realistic manipulated content, such as deepfakes, which are digitally altered videos or images that appear genuine. These can have far-reaching consequences on society. This can be used for malicious purposes, such as discrediting individuals, spreading false information, fraud, or even blackmail. 

As a result, deepfakes can cause significant real-world harm by undermining trust in media and destabilizing public discourse. To address this concern, develop and promote the use of tools and technologies that can detect deepfakes and other AI-generated manipulations. Be aware of deepfakes, and learn how to identify and report manipulated content. 

Cyber-bullying and hate speech 

AI chatbots and language models can be misused to create offensive, hurtful, or discriminatory messages, leading to emotional distress or perpetuating harmful stereotypes. To combat this issue, implement content filters and moderation tools to detect and remove inappropriate or harmful messages generated by AI models. Engage in responsible and respectful behavior in AI-mediated interactions for positive outcomes. If you witness or experience cyber bullying or hate speech, report this to the platform where the abuse is occurring and to the appropriate authorities. 

Emotional distress 

In some cases, AI may inadvertently cause emotional distress by offering inappropriate or insensitive advice, as seen with a chatbot's suggestion for a user to leave their spouse, or delivering a mean response to a person. It's essential to monitor and improve chatbot responses to ensure they are empathetic, helpful, and considerate, in order to prevent causing emotional harm or negative feelings in users. Also, be mindful to engage with the chatbot in a kind and respectful tone, and it should respond in the same way. 

Exponential unchecked acceleration 

LLMs can rapidly advance innovation in natural language processing and machine learning, but this can also result in an unchecked AI technology race and reduced safety and ethical standards. While LLMs have the potential to revolutionize many aspects of life and society, their widespread use requires responsible development and deployment with careful consideration of their societal impact. 

Uncontrolled and unintended outcomes 

As AI models become more complex, their behavior may become unpredictable and even harmful when interacting with other systems. Due to the nature of these models, it is difficult to anticipate how they will behave in certain circumstances, especially when used in ways that were not intended. As a result, it is essential to monitor and regulate the use of AI models to prevent any potential negative consequences. 

Malicious use 

AI technologies, including chatbots, image generators, and large language models, can be exploited for harmful purposes, such as creating malware, aiding in weapon development, or orchestrating targeted cyberattacks. It's crucial to recognize these potential threats and implement robust security measures to guard against the malicious use of AI. It is of utmost importance to understand the implications of this and put in security guardrails to promote the safe use of these technologies. If you hear of AI being used in a malicious way, report it immediately to authorities. 

*If you see something that doesn’t seem right, report this to the platform where the abuse is occurring and to the appropriate authorities. Dedicated online abuse reporting organizations include the Cyber Civil Rights Initiative or the Anti-Defamation League. 

Environmental impact 

The environmental impact of training and deploying large language models is a growing concern, as the energy consumption required for their development and operation contributes to carbon emissions and environmental harm. To address this, it is crucial to explore more energy-efficient models and promote research in green AI technology, which focuses on reducing the environmental footprint of AI systems without compromising their capabilities. 
 
Individual users can combat the environmental impact of LLMs by being conscious of their AI usage, minimizing unnecessary interactions with these systems, and supporting developers and companies that prioritize energy-efficient AI models and invest in green technology research. 

Practicing responsible AI use 

As AI technology continues to evolve, it's vital to remain vigilant about the potential for real-world harm and to actively seek ways to minimize risks. Encourage ongoing dialogue among developers, users, and regulators to identify emerging threats and develop solutions to mitigate potential harm. By fostering a culture of responsibility and ethical AI usage, we can harness the power of AI for the betterment of society while minimizing the potential for negative consequences.

Adhere to ethical guidelines and best practices 

Following ethical guidelines and best practices for AI use is vital for maintaining responsible interactions. Stay updated on AI ethics guidelines from organizations like OpenAI, ensuring that you are using AI models responsibly and for beneficial purposes. Always respect user privacy and avoid harmful applications that might lead to unintended consequences. Monitor AI output for potential issues and continuously refine your AI usage to minimize risks, fostering a culture of continuous improvement and ethical AI engagement. 

Be responsible with prompting 

As AI becomes more advanced, their ability to generate human-like output increases exponentially. With this great power comes great responsibility, making it crucial to ensure ethical and responsible prompting. Best practices include avoiding bias and harmful content, ensuring data privacy, adhering to ethical guidelines, and checking for plagiarism in order to foster responsible AI interactions that respect user privacy and promote fairness. 

Prompting responsibly involves being mindful of the potential impact of the prompts and ensuring that they are ethical and respectful. Here are some tips on how to prompt responsibly: 

  • Consider the potential consequences of the prompt and whether it could be harmful or misleading. 
  • Be transparent: Clearly communicate what the prompt is intended to achieve and what data will be collected or used. 
  • Respect user privacy. Ensure that user privacy is protected and that any personal data is handled in accordance with ethical guidelines and best practices. This includes avoiding the use of copyrighted content (text, images, logos, etc.) 
  • Avoid biased or discriminatory prompts, be aware of any potential biases or stereotypes that may be present in the prompt and ensure that it is inclusive and respectful. 
  • Be kind and professional in your prompting, as the tone and language that you engage with the chatbot influences the output. 
  • Continuously monitor and evaluate your prompts: Regularly assess the effectiveness of the prompts and make adjustments as needed to ensure they are serving their intended purpose in a responsible manner. 

Conclusion 

By acknowledging the potential risks and challenges associated with AI technology, we can make informed decisions about the use of AI. It is crucial to ensure responsible usage of these technologies, considering ethical considerations and best practices to maximize benefits while minimizing potential harm. 

Disclaimer: We're excited to recommend the use of generative AI technology to small businesses, but please be aware that this technology is still in its early stages of development and its effectiveness may vary depending on the circumstances. Additionally, avoid entering sensitive information as AI chatbot systems will save your input, and make sure to review the output for accuracy, as it may be incorrect, inaccurate, or out of date.