Class action in US over artificial intelligence

Artificial intelligence (AI) promises to have a lot to say about how lawyers should do their work. A proposed class action in the United States suggests lawyers will have a bit to say about how AI works, too.

Clarkson Law Firm attorneys in Malibu and San Francisco, California, and New York have launched a class action on behalf of 16 complainants.

It has been filed in the US District Court for the Northern District of California.

The suit alleges ChatGPT scrapes personal information from the web without consent, and also gathers user data from devices, browsers, social media and other Microsoft products (Microsoft has licensed exclusive use of ChatGPT’s underlying model).

It also suggests ChatGPT will cause the end of the world.

It may be that Open AI’s CEO Sam Altman will regret quipping that “AI will probably most likely lead to the end of the world, but in the meantime, there’ll be great companies”.


It might seem as if artificial intelligence – and in particular, the Large Language Models that power things like ChatGPT – popped into existence a couple of months ago, but actually they have been around for a while.

The first AI program, Logic Theorist, was written in 1956.

The enthusiasm of the 1950s gave way to so-called ‘AI winters’ in the 1970s and 1980s, when investors lost confidence in the concept and funding vanished.

An explosion in computing power, and the use of neural networks (computer programs based on the function of the human brain) changed all that.

These programs led to the GPT (Generative Pre-trained Transformer) models, the first of which was released in 2019. It is the ‘pre-trained’ bit that has brought in the lawyers.

The GPT programs were (and are) trained by trawling through data, and the more data the better. Generally speaking, that data is scraped from the internet.


Thus the real game-changer for AI in general and ChatGPT especially was the explosion of the cloud.

Vast swathes of humanity uploaded most of their lives, and truckloads of data, onto the world wide web and ChatGPT gorged on this.

The question of who owns this data, whether Open AI and other such companies had any right to use it, and if anyone would be prepared to sue them over it has long bubbled under the surface of the AI revolution. That question is about to be answered.

It is very early days for this lawsuit, and there is no telling what will come of it.

That said, previous litigation of a similar nature – against Clearview AI, a company which provides facial recognition technology – has been successful in the past, if only in a limited way.

In any event, this is likely only the first shot across the bow and the start of a probably lengthy war over data privacy and intellectual property rights.

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