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Want an agency in the age of artificial intelligence? Prepare to fight

Screenwriters are protesting studios’ use of artificial intelligence language models to write scripts. The actors are on strike after rejecting an offer from companies that want to use artificial intelligence technology to scan people’s faces and bodies and have the right to deepfake digital copies of them without consent or compensation in perpetuity.

These cases combine the fear that humans will be replaced by computer programs and the feeling that there is little we can do about it. Nothing surprising. Our lax approach to regulating the excesses of the previous tech boom means that AI companies have felt safe creating and launching products that are exploitative and harmful.

But that will soon change. The boom in generative artificial intelligence has renewed the enthusiasm of American politicians to pass laws related to artificial intelligence. While it will take some time for this to have any effect, existing laws already provide plenty of ammunition for those who claim their rights have been violated by AI companies.

I just published an article detailing the spate of lawsuits and investigations that have recently hit these companies. These lawsuits are likely to have a major impact on making the way AI is developed and used in the future fairer and more equitable. Read here.

The bottom line is that last week the Federal Trade Commission opened an investigation into whether OpenAI violated consumer protection laws by collecting people’s internet data to train its popular AI chatbot ChatGPT.

Meanwhile, artists, authors and image company Getty have sued AI companies OpenAI, Stability AI and Meta, alleging they violated copyright laws by training their models on their work without credit or payment. Last week, comedian and writer Sarah Silverman joined the authors’ copyright fight against AI companies.

Both the FTC’s investigation and a slew of lawsuits revolve around AI’s data practices, which rely on online data mining to train models. This inevitably includes personal data as well as copyrighted works.

Those cases will essentially determine how artificial intelligence companies are legally allowed to behave, says Matthew Butterick, a lawyer representing artists and authors, including Silverman, in class-action lawsuits against GitHub and Microsoft, OpenAI, Stability AI and Meta.

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