Column: AI Ethical, Societal & Technical Concerns

June 15, 2024 | 1 Comment

[Opinion column written by Chris Garrod]

Generative AI, and primarily ChatGPT-4 [and now even more so ChatGPT-4o], developed by OpenAI, represents a significant leap in natural language processing and artificial intelligence. Its ability to generate human-like text has opened up many applications, from content creation to customer service automation. However, these advancements come with risks that need to be thoroughly examined. Here, I’ll try to delve into the ethical, societal, and technical dangers associated with generative AI, summarizing the challenges and proposing potential mitigation strategies.

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Ethical Concerns

Bias and Fairness

Despite efforts to train AI on diverse datasets, intrinsic biases persist. These biases can lead to outputs that reinforce stereotypes or marginalize certain groups. For example, suppose ChatGPT-4 is trained on a dataset with biased representations of gender or race. In that case, it most likely will generate content that reflects those biases. Addressing these issues requires better data and ongoing monitoring and adjustment of the models.

Misinformation and Hallucination

Generative AI’s ability to generate convincing text poses significant risks in the realm of misinformation, at best, and utter hallucination, at worst. It’s all about data – and extensive data collection. It can be used to create fake news articles, misleading social media posts, or even deepfake content. The rapid spread of such misinformation can have far-reaching consequences, from influencing elections to exacerbating public health crises. Combating this requires a multifaceted approach, including technological solutions for detecting false information and public education campaigns.

Autonomy and Human Agency

The increasing reliance on AI for decision-making can diminish human critical thinking and agency. In scenarios where AI provides recommendations or makes decisions, individuals might become overly dependent on these systems, potentially losing critical skills and autonomy. Furthermore, AI’s capacity to generate persuasive content raises concerns about manipulation and deception, as individuals might be influenced without being aware of AI’s involvement.

Societal Impact

Job Displacement

The automation potential of AI threatens jobs across various sectors. In industries like content creation, journalism, customer service, and more, AI can perform tasks traditionally done by humans, leading to significant job displacement. This shift could exacerbate economic inequality, as those with skills aligned with AI technology benefit while others are left behind. Addressing this requires robust retraining programs and policies to support affected workers. As a lawyer, I’m looking forward to the potential generative AI brings, removing the monotony of my daily tasks and perhaps allowing me to become more… creative?

Education and Learning

In the educational sphere, ChatGPT-4 poses challenges related to academic integrity and the transformation of learning methods. The ease with which students can use AI to generate essays or solve problems undermines traditional educational values. On the other hand, AI also offers opportunities to personalize learning experiences and provide new forms of academic support. Balancing these aspects requires careful consideration and innovative solutions.

Technical Concerns

Security Risks

ChatGPT-4, like other AI systems, is susceptible to adversarial attacks where malicious inputs are designed to “fool the model”. Ensuring robustness and reliability in AI outputs is a significant technical challenge. Additionally, the complexity of these models makes it difficult to predict their behavior in all scenarios, leading to potential unintended consequences.

Unintended Consequences

The emergent behaviors of complex AI systems like ChatGPT-4 are challenging to predict and control. These unintended consequences can range from minor errors to significant malfunctions that pose safety risks. Ensuring that AI systems behave as intended under all conditions is an ongoing challenge that requires sophisticated monitoring and control mechanisms.

Resource Consumption

The environmental impact of training and operating large AI models is substantial. The computational resources required contribute to significant energy consumption and carbon emissions. Addressing their environmental footprint becomes increasingly essential as AI models grow in size and complexity.

Regulatory and Governance Issues


The rapid advancement of AI technology has outpaced the development of regulatory frameworks. Existing regulations are often inadequate and have become increasingly fragmented to address the unique challenges posed by AI. There is a pressing need for new policies that ensure the ethical development and use of AI, protecting individuals and society from its potential harms.

Ethical AI Development

Developing AI responsibly requires adherence to principles of ethical AI, including transparency, accountability, and fairness. Ensuring that AI systems are designed and deployed transparently allows for scrutiny and oversight. Accountability mechanisms are essential to hold developers and users of AI systems responsible for their impacts.

Mitigation Strategies

Bias Mitigation

Addressing bias in AI requires improving the diversity and representativeness of training datasets. Developing techniques for detecting and correcting biases in AI outputs is also crucial. This involves ongoing research and innovation to create more equitable AI systems.

Combatting Misinformation

Developing verification tools to detect and prevent the spread of AI-generated misinformation is essential. Public awareness campaigns can also significantly educate individuals about the risks of AI-generated misinformation and how to identify it.

Ensuring Fair Use

Establishing clear guidelines for the ethical use of AI and monitoring compliance is vital. Enforcement mechanisms are necessary to ensure these guidelines are followed, protecting individuals and society from unethical AI practices.

Supporting Displaced Workers

Training programs are critical to helping workers transition to new roles in an AI-driven economy. Strengthening social safety nets can also support those affected by job displacement, ensuring that the benefits of AI are shared more equitably across society.


The potential dangers of generative AI are multifaceted, encompassing ethical, societal, and bring technical concerns. Addressing these risks requires a comprehensive approach involving improved data practices, robust regulatory frameworks, and ongoing public engagement. By proactively addressing these challenges, we can harness the potential of generative AI while mitigating its risks, ensuring that AI development benefits all of society.

The main challenge is that can it possibly do it and are we responsible enough to try?

- Chris Garrod

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  1. Packman says:

    We can plainly see as you say that we are all living in a world of ” And . If . But.” tell us where does” It ” fit into the equation .

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