In a recent webinar co-hosted by 4thly and Foley & Lardner LLP, lawyers Natasha Allen and Louis Lehot engaged in a thought-provoking discussion with 4thly’s Bret Waters on the evolving regulatory landscape surrounding Artificial Intelligence (AI). As AI continues to automate workflows and entire industries, the conversation highlighted the challenges, opportunities, and considerations for entrepreneurs, innovators, and investors in this rapidly evolving field.
Key Takeaways from the Discussion:
1. AI’s Impact and Regulatory Environment: Panelists described the deep, wide, and rapid adoption of AI technologies by both consumers and enterprises. Unanticipated externalities of this rapid adoption, from deep fakes, impersonation, and proliferation of false information in the political realm, fraud in the business realm and cheating in the academic arena, just to name a few, are causing legislators and regulators to propose new laws. Any legislative or regulatory action will need to strike a balance between fostering AI innovation and addressing the potential risks that aren’t already covered by existing laws.
2. Executive Orders and Government Initiatives: The Biden Administration’s executive order on AI, announced last fall, signaled a shift toward a more concrete regulatory framework. Natasha Allen described the specific goals of the executive order, emphasizing the government’s dual perspective on AI – a driver of growth and opportunity but also a potential danger to society. The conversation shed light on the need for regulations around testing, safety, and explainability.
3. AI in Specific Industries: Panelists surveyed AI’s impact on specific industries and verticals, from business processes to healthcare to academics to politics. Natasha emphasized how governments are currently focusing on regulating AI to deter deepfakes, impersonation and election fraud.
4. Ownership of AI Outputs: Every business can be improved by AI, provided you have some minimum capital to provide the computing power and hire engineers. Over time, combining large language models created by engineers and powered by supercomputers with access to proprietary and unique data sets to drive outputs will be the differentiator between success and failure. Depending on what the data inputs and training data for the AI engine were, who owns the AI outputs? As businesses increasingly rely on AI models, the question of ownership and potential copyright violations becomes an increasingly pressing issue. The New York Times vs. OpenAI case asks the question “what is fair use” of copyrighted material, the answer to which could reshape our thinking about the intersection of AI and copyrighted materials.
5. Future of Legal Practice Amid AI Advancements: The panelists addressed the frequently expressed concern in popular society about whether AI will replace humans, creating generations of joblessness. Natasha dispelled these fears by emphasizing that, at least for now, AI is making legal professionals more efficient, shifting their focus to higher-level tasks. The need for human oversight, especially in reviewing AI outputs and ensuring accuracy, remains crucial.
6. Advice for Startups: Louis offered valuable advice to startup founders, emphasizing the race to achieve product-market fit efficiently. Louis highlighted the importance of raising enough capital to reach revenue milestones to get to the next step, with some companies burning far beyond sustainable amounts.
As the webinar closed, it was evident that the regulatory landscape of AI is in a dynamic state of flux. The future holds both opportunities and challenges, and staying up to date with legislative and regulatory developments will be crucial for anyone venturing into the realm of AI innovation.