U.S. businesses embrace ChatGPT for efficiency, but is intellectual property at risk?

Aug 12, 2023, 7:55 AM UTC
6 mins read
U.S. businesses embrace ChatGPT for efficiency, but is the intellectual property at risk?

A recent survey conducted by Reuters/Ipsos reveals a notable surge in the adoption of ChatGPT, an advanced AI chatbot, by American professionals seeking assistance with routine tasks. This phenomenon, however, has raised concerns within some organizational circles, prompting tech giants like Microsoft and Google to take measures in limiting its usage.

The widespread international deliberation surrounding the integration of ChatGPT, a conversational AI powered by generative algorithms, into corporate workflows has elicited a mixed response. While hailed for its potential to enhance operational efficiency, there are apprehensions stemming from security enterprises and business entities, who worry about potential leaks of proprietary strategies and intellectual property.

The utility of ChatGPT for facilitating day-to-day responsibilities is underscored by anecdotal instances, wherein individuals have harnessed its capabilities to draft emails, synthesize complex documents, and initiate preliminary research.

A striking 28% of participants in the online artificial intelligence (AI) poll, conducted between July 11 and 17, confirmed regular utilization of ChatGPT in their professional environments. This contrastingly emerges against a backdrop wherein merely 22% affirm their employers’ explicit endorsement of external AI tools.

The Reuters/Ipsos study, encompassing a demographically representative sample of 2,625 adults across the United States, yielded a credibility interval of approximately 2 percentage points, accentuating the precision of its findings.

Amongst respondents, 10% divulged their employers’ outright prohibition of external AI tools, while approximately a quarter remained uncertain about the technological permissibility within their respective organizations.

This notable groundswell of interest in ChatGPT has propelled it to the status of the fastest-growing application in history since its launch in November. This meteoric rise, however, is not devoid of controversy, as its parent company OpenAI faces scrutiny from regulatory bodies, notably in Europe, where concerns about extensive data aggregation have attracted the attention of privacy watchdogs.

A noteworthy aspect pertains to the oversight exercised by human reviewers from distinct organizations, who possess the authority to peruse the content generated by ChatGPT. Furthermore, researchers have uncovered that akin AI models hold the potential to replicate data assimilated during training, thereby engendering risks pertaining to proprietary information.

Ben King, Vice President of Customer Trust at corporate security firm Okta, underscores the prevailing lack of comprehension regarding data utilization within generative AI services, particularly within a corporate framework. He emphasizes the criticality of this concern for enterprises, noting the absence of contractual agreements given the gratuitous nature of several AI services, thereby warranting a distinctive risk assessment process.

OpenAI abstained from commenting on the implications of individual employees’ utilization of ChatGPT, while signaling their commitment through a recent blog post to corporate partners, assuring that their data shall not be employed for further training of the chatbot without explicit consent.

Analogously, the usage of Google’s Bard entails data collection spanning text, location, and user interaction patterns. While past activity can be erased from accounts and content purged from the AI’s purview, Google’s parent company Alphabet chose not to furnish additional details.

Related / Google’s ChatGPT rival “Bard” now available for early access in the US and UK

An unidentified employee at Tinder, a U.S.-based dating application, acknowledged the surreptitious employment of ChatGPT for innocuous endeavors, such as drafting emails, despite the official absence of endorsement. The employee asserts that this usage adheres to a generic framework, avoiding any revelation about the affiliation with Tinder.

Related / AI will help Gen Z users on Tinder build engaging profiles and find ideal matches

It is noteworthy that Reuters was unable to independently verify the extent of ChatGPT usage within Tinder. The dating app clarified its stance, asserting regular guidance to employees on security and data protocols.

The assertion of Samsung Electronics in May, which imposed a global ban on ChatGPT and akin AI tools after an employee uploaded sensitive code, casts a spotlight on the broader apprehensions. The conglomerate aims to formulate secure parameters for generative AI utilization, temporarily restricting its use on corporate devices until such measures are established.

Related / Samsung investigates data leak to ChatGPT, restricts employee access

A development of particular intrigue pertains to Alphabet’s communication of cautionary guidance to employees concerning the use of chatbots, juxtaposed against the program’s worldwide promotion.

Amidst this tapestry of responses, a spectrum emerges wherein entities such as Coca-Cola and Tate & Lyle openly embrace ChatGPT, orchestrating cautious experiments to harness its capabilities while safeguarding security.

Coca-Cola, for instance, has initiated trials to exploit AI’s potential for bolstering operational efficiency, assuring data confinement within its internal infrastructure. Tate & Lyle’s Chief Financial Officer, Dawn Allen, affirms their ongoing experimentation, focusing on discerning applications across diverse domains including investor relations and knowledge management.

However, a distinctive divide surfaces, with certain employees barred from accessing ChatGPT via company computers. An employee of Procter & Gamble substantiates this, disclosing the complete inoperability of the platform within the office network.

As echoed by Paul Lewis, Chief Information Security Officer at Nominet, the apprehensions surrounding ChatGPT are substantiated, warranting a judicious approach. The advantages of enhanced capabilities are juxtaposed against potential lapses in information security, underscoring the imperative to tread cautiously. Malicious prompts capable of extracting sensitive information from AI chatbots amplify the complexity.

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