A majority of Americans reported interacting with artificial intelligence several times a week in a December 2022 survey from Pew Research Center. That same month, ChatGPT went viral.
AI tools like ChatGPT can answer questions about most topics; draft emails, cover letters and other documents for users; and even create custom exercise plans. These generative AI language models create content using complex algorithms and trillions of words. New AI models made headlines for their natural-sounding answers to user prompts.
Within two months of being launched, ChatGPT had over 100 million users. In comparison, TikTok took nine months to reach that milestone, while Instagram took 2 ½ years.
Today, millions of Americans use AI in their daily lives. A growing number of businesses are integrating AI automations into their workflow. However, the adoption of these new tools raises important issues related to AI privacy.
What’s AI, and What Are Its Benefits?
AI uses computing power to solve problems. Drawing on large amounts of data and machine learning tools, AI algorithms can automate tasks, identify data trends and provide customer service functions.
Generative AI, such as OpenAI’s ChatGPT or Google’s Bard, generates responses to specific prompts.
AI has many benefits. Businesses can automate processes, individuals can streamline their decision-making and families can protect their privacy. AI offers benefits in major industries, such as health care; in how people learn; and in daily life.
Automating Monotonous Tasks
Every business has repetitive tasks. Instead of them being assigned to humans, AI can automate repetitive processes across diverse industries.
Automating routine tasks, such as data entry, invoicing and email reminders, improves efficiency. This frees up time for employees to better use their skills and abilities.
Reducing Human Error
Automating tasks offers a major benefit: reducing human error. Instead of relying on individuals to input data or track complex processes, automation tools limit the possibility of errors.
Reducing human error also reduces risks such as revenue loss and more serious situations, such as data breaches. With over 70 percent of data breaches caused by human error according to the 2023 Verizon data breach report, AI offers a powerful tool for cybersecurity.
In K-12 and higher education, AI has the power to change how students learn. For example, AI tools can offer instant, personalized feedback to engage learners and promote growth.
Integrating AI into the curriculum can improve learning by tailoring material to each learner’s needs, and so can AI-powered learning management tools.
People who strive to make good decisions typically gather information, assess its reliability and then draw insights from that information.
AI can accelerate the decision-making process by consolidating large amounts of data and providing actionable insights. This allows businesses and individuals to make informed choices.
Helping Individuals Become More Autonomous
AI tools help individuals make autonomous decisions. For example, rather than contacting multiple travel agents to compare itineraries and prices, families can create their own travel plans with tools like Chat-GPT or Bard.
Businesses, too, can see greater employee autonomy, as employees are able to leverage AI to solve problems that previously would’ve required support from co-workers.
AI Privacy Risks and Challenges
As the use of AI becomes more prevalent, so do issues related to AI privacy.
Like other digital tools, AI raises the possibility of data breaches. Generative AI models (ChatGPT, Bard, DALL-E, Midjourney, etc.) can create useful content in response to user prompts, but they can also produce misleading, inaccurate or even harmful information.
After announcing the launch of GPT-4 in March 2023, OpenAI CEO Sam Altman warned of the harm of disinformation and cyberattacks. For example, cyberattackers can use AI to generate malware and phishing scam emails.
By understanding the risks and challenges posed by AI, individuals and businesses can protect themselves.
What Are the Different Types of AI Privacy Concerns?
AI algorithms can process massive amounts of data almost instantaneously. However, as AI tools collect and process data, AI security becomes a major concern.
The risk of data breaches or other unauthorized uses of private data represents a challenge for AI security.
These AI privacy concerns also include intentional attacks on AI models. For example, data poisoning attacks introduce corrupted data into AI models to change the outputs. Manipulating AI responses harms users and businesses that rely on AI-generated information.
Individuals, families and businesses must understand the privacy concerns related to AI to minimize risk and protect themselves.
AI Privacy Resources
Learn more about AI privacy concerns by consulting the following resources:
- Forbes, “How Companies Can Use Generative AI and Maintain Data Privacy”: As more companies integrate generative AI tools into their business, they run the risk of violating data privacy regulations.
- IEEE Computer Society, Resources for the Field of Artificial Intelligence: A professional association for computer science, IEEE Computer Society provides resources on the evolution of AI, an AI career forecast and information on ethics in AI.
- ISACA, “Beware the Privacy Violations in Artificial Intelligence Applications”: With lawmakers struggling to catch up with technological advances, privacy laws may not apply to AI applications. Learn more about privacy regulations, compliance and data sharing laws.
- International Association of Privacy Professionals, “Privacy Risk Study 2023”: Learn more about privacy risks related to the sharing of private data and other AI privacy concerns.
- Technology Magazine: “AI and Data Privacy: Protecting Information in a New Era”: When collecting customer information, businesses must consider the data privacy implications of using automated AI tools.
Key Considerations for Businesses Building AI Models
Many businesses are eager to incorporate AI tools into their operations. AI chatbots can quickly respond to customer questions, while AI tools can automate invoicing. Business leaders also leverage AI data analytics tools to identify trends and make decisions. However, businesses building or using AI models must understand key data privacy implications.
When businesses develop AI tools, they also need to understand the vulnerabilities of AI technology. Prioritizing privacy in the development and use of AI models also represents a critical consideration.
Before integrating AI systems, businesses must understand the potential dangers. For example, using generative AI can potentially put data privacy at risk. Generative AI models may collect data that violates company policies.
Research AI tools to identify potential dangers before moving forward. Consider the AI tool’s security measures, data collection processes and data sharing policies with third parties.
When using AI, businesses must actively promote privacy. This can include sound data hygiene policies, such as validating data to eliminate inaccurate information and removing incomplete or incorrect data. Clear policies on handling information can reduce risks.
Businesses building AI models can also set clear policies that limit data collection and reduce algorithmic bias. For example, developers should regularly review data security to avoid putting private data at risk.
Implementing new AI systems requires security enhancements. Legacy security approaches may not fully protect against AI risks. For example, many corporate security policies emphasize data protection but don’t cover issues like data poisoning that apply to AI models.
New AI applications must pass safety and performance screenings. Businesses must also review laws and regulations that mandate security standards for sensitive information.
While AI may appear to be a neutral, unbiased tool, algorithms can carry conscious or unconscious biases from their developers and their data sets. The field of cybersecurity ethics promotes the notion of fairness in AI models.
How can businesses champion fairness? First, they must be aware of the potential to write biases into AI models. Second, must conduct regular, real-time analyses of AI systems to identify and mitigate bias. Third, they must work closely with users to promote transparency and create a dialogue to identify biases or other fairness-related issues.
Addressing Third-Party Risks
Even after identifying dangers, promoting privacy and creating security policies, businesses can leave themselves vulnerable to third-party risks.
Many AI models integrate third-party tools. These tools may collect data or outsource other tasks. Similarly, digital tools may integrate generative AI models as a third-party add-on. Relying on third-party tools without researching their privacy and security standards can leave businesses vulnerable. Businesses may even be liable when third-party tools violate privacy regulations.
When engaging third parties, businesses must research their privacy standards and risk mitigation policies. Regular tests can also identify third-party risks.
Resources for Businesses on AI Privacy
A growing number of businesses rely on AI. The following resources help businesses protect their privacy and the privacy of their clients, customers and users:
- CompTIA, Artificial Intelligence in Business: Top Considerations Before Implementing AI: As AI transforms businesses, CompTIA recommends addressing issues such as project planning, infrastructure and data management.
- Federal Trade Commission, “Aiming for Truth, Fairness, and Equity in Your Company’s Use of AI”: The FTC offers resources for businesses on the use of AI, including minimizing bias or unfair outcomes. In addition, the resource discusses laws that apply to developers and users of AI.
- JD Supra, “Using AI in Human Resources: Benefits and Risks”: Using AI in human resources offers several benefits for recruitment and performance management. This guide from JD Supra explores some of the risks to using AI in HR, including privacy concerns and biases in AI models that can lead to discrimination.
- Usercentrics, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Data Privacy for Companies: This article explores how companies can use AI in business operations while managing user privacy concerns and protecting user data.
How Individuals and Families Can Mitigate AI Risks
AI offers many tools to protect homes and families. For example, smart home security systems can automate blinds and lights, monitor activity, and send real-time alerts if they detect an anomaly. AI identity theft tools can also scan the internet for evidence of identity theft.
Individuals and families must also understand the risks posed by AI, including privacy concerns.
Understanding the Dangers
To prevent AI privacy breaches, individuals must first understand the dangers that AI tools pose. From security breaches to data collection, AI users need to know the risks to protect themselves.
Parents and caregivers should also discuss AI dangers with children. For example, children need a basic understanding of how to spot disinformation and verify sources when using generative AI. Students should also understand the dangers of using AI content for school assignments, an offense that can violate plagiarism rules.
Taking Steps to Minimize Risk
When using AI tools, individuals and families can take several steps to limit their risk. First, they need to understand the risks and AI privacy concerns. Second, they need to put that knowledge into practice.
Simple steps to minimize the risks include the following:
- Review data sharing policies when using AI tools.
- Limit personal identification information.
- Follow the best practices for online privacy protection.
The number of people who regularly interact with AI has likely grown in 2023. Here are some ways individuals can minimize the risks posed by AI tools:
- Strong passwords and authentication methods. Individuals can minimize AI privacy risks by using strong passwords and implementing multi factor authentication. AI tools can potentially make it easier to hack weak passwords. As a result, people need to be diligent about protecting account access.
- Being mindful of data permissions. AI algorithms may collect information about users. This can include IP addresses, information about browsing activity and even personal information. Many AI tools can share this information with third parties without notifying users. Be aware of the terms and conditions when using AI tools, particularly data sharing and permissions information.
- Updating software and devices. Software programs and digital devices regularly update their security settings to protect users from data breaches and cyberattacks. However, users can’t take advantage of these advances without keeping their software and devices up to date.
- Being educated about AI privacy risks. Knowing the risks posed by AI tools represents a vital step in minimizing the risks. Learn about privacy concerns, cybersecurity tools and issues related to AI privacy.
Families need to be mindful of technology risks and online privacy. Here are some ways that families with AI privacy concerns can protect themselves.
- Having discussions about AI privacy risks. While generative AI is relatively new, it’s already changed how many families gather information and make decisions. Discuss AI privacy risks as a family to make sure that everyone understands the best practices for protecting personal information.
- Implementing privacy measures at home. Families can implement privacy measures by securing their home Wi-Fi system, updating devices with the latest security features and discussing how to protect online privacy.
- Monitoring children’s use of online AI tools. As they do with other online tools, parents need to monitor their children’s use of AI tools. Parental control applications can help parents track their children’s AI activity.
Resources for Individuals and Families on AI Privacy
Individuals and families can protect themselves by learning more about AI best practices and privacy.
- Infosec, “AI Best Practices: How to Securely Use Tools Like ChatGPT”: Learn how to evaluate AI chatbots, use AI photo editors and verify data from AI tools. This guide also includes recommendations to protect personal identification information and prevent phishing attacks.
- Internet Matters, A Parent’s Guide to Using AI With Kids: Internet Matters offers an interactive guide for parents using AI with kids, including information about AI tools and other resources.
- National Cybersecurity Alliance, Resources: The National Cybersecurity Alliance offers resources on online safety, cybersecurity risks and AI privacy, including articles on how cyberattackers use AI.
- Uptown Magazine, “Unveiling the Risks of AI for Black and Brown Communities”: Discover the risks that AI poses to Black and brown communities, including problems like algorithmic bias and the digital divide.
Promoting Privacy Rights in the Age of AI
AI continues to evolve. As more and more people use AI tools, users and technology leaders should prioritize privacy rights.
By considering privacy during the AI model-building process, businesses can promote data security and address third-party risks. Users must also proactively protect their AI privacy rights. Understanding the dangers allows society to benefit from AI while protecting privacy rights.