Artificial Intelligence

Artificial Intelligence – frequently abbreviated to AI – is a technology that is built on models which are trained on either a set amount of data or data available on the internet, depending on how the program has been configured. AI uses what it has learnt to generate responses based on ‘prompts’ provided by a user.

If you use entertainment streaming services, you benefit from AI when the platform suggests tracks or films you may like. The same applies when you shop online and receive suggestions about other purchases. From social media to satnav, online dating to booking a restaurant, AI is often working behind the scenes to ensure that you get what you want out of the technology, but also that businesses also obtain optimum benefit. AI has also enabled substantial advances in the healthcare, manufacturing, transportation, finance, oil & gas, communications, health & safety, gaming, marketing, creative and many other sectors.

However, there are also negative aspects of AI that all internet users should be aware of.

The risks

As is the case with many types of technology, many people have misgivings about the future of AI and the negative impact it could have on our lives. Commonplace questions asked include: “Will AI take over our jobs?”, “Will my privacy be compromised?” and even “Will we develop non-human minds that outnumber humans and take over the world?”

Right now, however, the risks are as follows:

  • Generative AI, is the type that makes it straightforward for anybody to use a publicly available website such as ChatGPT (there are also many others) to create virtually any type of content or get the answer to any question simply by typing commands. The risks of using generative AI are:
    • Relying too much on the information you are presented with – as it may be inaccurate or even contain intentional misinformation or fake news.
    • Relying too much on using generative AI for to produce student essays/dissertations/schoolwork to achieve better grades, which could mislead until you take exams, enrol on further courses or seek employment.
    • Oversharing information that could compromise your privacy or confidential information.
  • Falling victim to a scam which has been made more convincing with the use of AI by its perpetrator. This could be an email, social media post, telephone call video call or promotional video.

There are sensible precautions you should routinely take to ensure you can enjoy the many benefits of AI with safety, security and confidence.

Top tips

  • Always be vigilant for attempts at fraud or identity theft. Ask yourself if a request for money or information, or a sales pitch, seems genuine.
  • Do not become too reliant on AI to perform various tasks which should be carried out by yourself.
  • Remember that the outputs of generative AI platforms are only as good as the information they have acquired and learned. Always check other sources for accuracy.
  • Never reveal unnecessary personal or otherwise confidential information about yourself, your family, friends or finances, as this may appear in the results of other users’ instructions or queries.
  • Always be respectful. What you enter into an AI-based or assisted platform stays there and could be used in some capacity.
  • Always regard AI as a tool, not a replacement for your own or others’ talents, intelligence or qualities.

We gratefully acknowledge the assistance of Calum Mackenzie of AI Strategy in compiling this advice

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A Glossary of terms used in this article:

Identity theft

The crime of impersonating someone – by using their private information – for financial gain.