Employment & LaborIntellectual PropertyNewsThe AI Angst: Businesses, Workers Grapple with Navigating Uncharted Tech Territory

September 8, 2023

Artificial Intelligence (“AI”) is causing angst amongst employers and employees alike.  As highlighted in a recent Providence Business News article, concerns range from workers being replaced by technology, to subpar work product being created by AI platforms, to overall uncertainty and lack of understanding as to what the technology can do.

As a labor and employment Partner at PSH, Alicia Samolis is in the trenches with businesses in sorting out the best way to manage employee use of AI.  The number of client calls regarding the legal risks of using specific technologies, as well as clients seeking the best policies and practices to guide employees as to how to use AI, is increasing every day.

As Samolis explained to PBN in her recent interview, businesses cannot afford to avoid AI due to anxiety. “Whether you like it or not, if you’re a business, you need to learn how to have it help your business and adapt to it,” Samolis said, “because your competitors absolutely will.”

However, Samolis also advises that businesses cannot throw caution to the wind and let employees use AI platforms without parameters.  Businesses need to understand legal risks that AI can present and mitigate those risks.

One risk Samolis highlighted in her interview is that when information is entered into many popular AI platforms, the information will be used in future machine learning and can become public.  Samolis stated “[p]rofessions that do not have highly sensitive information may not take issue with that, but you really can’t do it [with industries with highly sensitive proprietary or protected information].”  Samolis also explained to PBN that inputs can be discoverable, meaning that an opposing party in litigation may be able seek the information and questions users input into certain AI platforms.  Intellectual property issues also are a landmine.  Some AI platforms take ownership of works created through the technology, while others may generate pictures, music, text, and other works that are owned by others and would be illegal to use.

Again, Samolis urges companies not to hide from these risks by avoiding AI use.  Rather, she advises companies to get in front of these issues by adopting guidelines for AI use in employee handbooks and consulting with counsel to understand the evolving risks from AI use.

The Employment & Labor Group and Intellectual Property Group at Partridge Snow & Hahn is ready to assist Rhode Island businesses with these issues.

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