Why AI Is on Trial in 2024

By: Anneken Tappe · January 03, 2024 · Reading Time: 2 minutes

A Day in Court

Between ChatGPT, OpenAI, and many large tech companies committing to investments in the space, 2023 was a pivotal year in Artificial Intelligence. But 2024 is shaping up to be an even more critical year for the industry.

A series of copyright disputes are looming. Most recently, The New York Times (NYT) sued Microsoft (MSFT) and OpenAI for copyright infringement. With regulation struggling to keep pace with AI’s development, these legal battles could be the industry’s first major hurdle.

Copy-Right or Copy-Wrong?

In order to function, AI models like ChatGPT are trained on massive amounts of data, including millions of news articles. The Times’ lawsuit alleges that this process isn’t legal because it “build[s] substitutive products without permission or payment” to the suppliers of source material, which in turn constitutes copyright infringement.

The added wrinkle: AI systems threaten to supplant at least parts of the traditional newsroom.

The lawsuit acknowledges this as an impetus for legal action, calling out the defendants’ alleged “unlawful use of The Times’s work to create artificial intelligence products that compete with it”.

Innovation Versus Infringement

The Times’s suit is merely the latest. Comedians, novelists, and photography platforms have also taken legal action against AI companies on similar grounds.

Crucial decisions in these cases could decide the winners and losers in the evolving AI landscape, and change the conditions for those companies and products that stand to follow in their footsteps. For example, a ruling restricting AI could favor well-resourced AI companies, edging out smaller players, while a more flexible legal stance could spur an even greater expansion of AI development.

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