Is Artificial intelligence getting out of hand?
28th April 2023
A controversial new feature has recently been added to the snapchat app that allows users to chat with an ‘AI’ chatbot. After testing the new feature out on paying subscribers, snapchat made it available to all users earlier this month as an attempt to increase app usage. Lily Franklin has looked into the safety and purpose of AI technology.
The app uses a technology called GPT-4, created by the company ‘OpenAl’. GPT 4 is the latest and most advanced version of OpenAls language model system which allows users to interact, chat and ask questions and in return receive a human-like response generated by the bot. The same technology is used by Microsoft in their Bing search engine.
Snapchat users have taken to twitter to complain about the new update, with some fearing that the bot has access to their IP address and current location.
In a tweet posted by @ConnorShad15412, he said:"AI knows my location and I haven’t gave my permission to know this I feel like it’s an invasion of privacy and it needs to go before someone sues"
"It’s an invasion of privacy and it needs to go"—@ConnorShad15412
However in a blog post shared on Snapchats official website, concerns about location sharing and data storage have been addressed.
The app has clarified that the bot can only access your ‘city-level’ location in order to provide useful recommendations based on questions being asked of it. If users feel uncomfortable with this information being made available to snapchat, they can turn off location sharing with the app in the phone's settings.
Most of the confusion came from users turning on ‘ghost mode’,(a pre-existing feature in the app that stops your location from being shared with other users but does not stop your location from being shared with the app itself) but not turning off location sharing.
Another concern fans of the app had was what snapchat was doing with the data collected from conversations held with the bot. A spokesperson from snapchat said: “Privacy is a foundational value for us - it is critical to our core use case of helping people visually communicate with their friends and family,". "Across our app, we seek to minimise the amount of data we collect and aim to be as transparent as possible with our community about how each of our products uses their data." They also recommend that users don't share personal or confidential information with their virtual friend.
"Across our app, we seek to minimise the amount of data we collect and aim to be as transparent as possible with our community about how each of our products uses their data."—Snapchat
Snapchat is yet to address the concerns that users have about the inability to delete the bot. The feature stays pinned to the top of the chat feed and can only be removed by paying subscribers.
@TRAMAZINE on twitter complained about the update . They said: “I can't delete it, I can't unfriend it, it’s automatically on my story, and I have to PAY to delete it. Please delete this update”. Another user named @missmaggie93 suggested that people should have the choice to opt out of receiving the new feature. She said: “Snapchat needs to make the AI feature optional and require an Opt-In. When I made my account, I didn't agree to AI technology being forced upon me. People have a right to make choices about their account security. Every other feature is an opt-in.”
However there are some users that are embracing the new update, with many posting on tik tok their humorous conversations with the bot. Some are comparing their new AI friend to a therapist while others are having fun asking it to write songs and answer questions.
What is the point of AI technology?
The idea behind AI technology is to create machines that can perform in a way that would normally require human intelligence. With this idea in mind, ideally the machine can store and recite information the average human brain would not be able to comprehend. Therefore the more it is used, the smarter it becomes theoretically. Over time AI learns from experience and will be able to make informed decisions based on previous input.
By having access to AI machines, tasks that generally require humans to complete, will now be able to be performed by artificial intelligence. In theory, people will then have more free time and more job positions can be filled without the need for humans.
Software engineer Lewis Lingham believes that artificial intelligence is vital for progressing into the future. He said: “I think the reason people are opposed to AI technology is because of a lack of understanding. In general ai is safe to use and can be extremely beneficial for storing, analysing and processing vast amounts of data. Of course there is a risk that AI systems can be created with a bias, so it's important to be aware of this when using the software.” He said he understands why people are concerned about the newSnapchat AI feature but believes its not something for people to worry about. He said: “There's a lot of misinformation being spread online about what the bot is capable of. A lot of these so-called ‘conversations’ with the bot are photoshopped. Of Course an AI system isn't going to ask people to meet up in real life.”
“I think the reason people are opposed to AI technology is because of a lack of understanding"—Lewis Lingham
There are multiple drawbacks to using ai software. If artificial intelligence is capable of filling human roles in society, this could potentially lead to widespread unemployment and therefore cause extreme economic disruption.
Additionally, in roles within healthcare and transportation there is no room for error or mistake as either could lead to extreme consequences and could be the difference between life and death.
There are also concerns about safety and privacy when using artificial intelligence. AI software can memorise and store excessive amounts of personal data without people's consent or knowledge. In general this is a positive, as apps can then use this information to cater specifically to each user, by showing personalised ads and content. However this information can be dangerous if it appears in a data leak or the AI system gets hacked.
Technology is constantly evolving at a rapid pace, and there are pros and cons to consider while using it. It's important to monitor what is shared online, meaning limiting oversharing personal and confidential information that could be used in a negative way.
We have contacted snapchat for a statement.