Artificial Intelligence Search Engines Under Legal Fire
Feb. 17, 2023.
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Could AI-powered search engines such as Google Bard and Microsoft’s new Bing face legal action? Section 230, a fundamental internet law, is set to be reconsidered by the United States Supreme Court, and while it has been used to protect traditional search engines, AI-powered ones remain uncharted territory. Gonzalez v. Google is the case before the Supreme Court, and it includes the question of whether algorithmic recommendations should be given full legal protection under Section 230, which could have broader implications for AI search engines. While tech behemoths like OpenAI promote large language models like ChatGPT as the future of search, it should be noted that these summarize information that can be both ambiguous and inaccurate, especially if the information on which they rely is false.
Section 230 allows old-school search engines to claim some protection by linking to inaccurate information because they are simply posting links to the content of other sources. However, it’s more difficult for AI-powered chatbot search interfaces. If Section 230 remains largely unchanged, many hypothetical future cases will turn on whether an AI search engine was repeating someone else’s illegal speech or producing its own, potentially exposing search providers to legal action.
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