Human interactions with technology

In the past few years, the use of social media has increased rapidly. A key feature of social media platforms and social media apps is the ability to interact with other people in ways that were not thought possible in previous generations.  With the click of a button, someone from the other side of the world can appear on a screen in front of you.

Technology and social media have not just given rise to platforms that facilitate human-to-human interaction: recently, advancements in technology have led to a rise in a new type of social relationship: human-to-computer interaction.  The interactions we have with technology are not just based on user input.  Technology has learned to respond to people.  It can communicate with us.  It can perform tasks.  It can learn our habits and tailor services to our needs.  It can learn to identify us.  It can assemble information and provide solutions to problems.  This ‘artificial intelligence’ (or AI) has become a key component in our daily social interactions.

In a previous blog, we wrote about how AI can be used with social media content through, for example, massive collection of user-generated content and facial recognition systems that can identify faces and other images.  We also discussed how social networking companies are using AI through acquisition of large amounts of user-generated content and other data.

Legal issues surrounding AI

There are many legal issues that should be considered by individuals who use AI and by social networking companies that seek to incorporate AI into their business.

Privacy rights: AI can be used to collect massive amounts of data. This data can contain sensitive information about an individual, such as: their identity, home address, preferences and habits, and conversations with others.  Given the vast amounts of identifying information that can be stored and used, it is important that privacy rights are clearly defined and respected in accordance with applicable privacy legislation.

IP rights: One of the major benefits of AI is that it has fostered a new age of technological advancement. It has increased creativity and innovation.  At the same time, it also raises intellectual property issues such as the impact of AI on IP ownership rights and on the ability to obtain and retain those rights.

  • Ownership rights: The use of AI can lead to questions about who owns the rights to user-generated content. In the absence of any agreements, does the user of the service employing AI own all of the rights that may arise from any user-generated content? Or does the company offering AI services obtain the rights? Or is there a sharing of rights?
  • Acquisition and retention rights: When AI is used to assist with innovation, what impact could that have on the ability to obtain IP rights, such as copyright or patent rights? For example, if a user seeks patent protection or has a patent that was based on the assistance of AI, could they be denied or lose protection on the basis that the AI rendered the purported invention obvious?

Being prepared in the era of AI

Individuals and companies who wish to take advantage of the benefits of AI should be fully prepared:

  • Agreements: Agreements are important to help define how IP rights are to be treated or how a user’s personal information is to be handled in accordance with privacy laws.
  • Policies and training: Policies and training are important to make employees aware of the issues surrounding the use of AI and to educate them on how to ensure that privacy and IP agreements are implemented appropriately.