Artificial intelligence is everywhere. ChatGPT is now a household name like Google and Facebook. But unlike those big-name tech companies, AI innovators are welcoming regulation. OpenAI’s Sam Altman, who helped develop ChatGPT, has publicly called for regulation in the US and internationally.
Less famous companies that use or design AI tools, particularly those that straddle technology and health sciences, are already accustomed to operating under strict legal rules. AI is the latest tool of theirs that must comply with privacy and data security regulations. But innovations are happening quickly, so regulators are playing catch-up despite industry cooperation.
Laura Weinrib at Blake Cassels & Graydon LLP says that how medical devices that use artificial learning are approved and regulated, especially as they become “smarter” as more data gets inputted, is an area of concern. The good news, Weinrib says, is that for at least the past five years, Health Canada has taken the initiative to adapt its regulatory approach to support the development of digital health technologies, including AI and cybersecurity software in medical devices and telemedicine.
And it is not just AI technological developments accelerating the need for regulation. During the pandemic, enforcement activity for virtual care may not have been the highest priority, but now regulators have had time to turn their minds to this area, says Susan Newell at Osler Hoskin & Harcourt LLP. Organizations are more likely to ensure they collect the appropriate consent from patients and use technology appropriately when providing health services.
Patient privacy rights are also a key question for collaborative research initiatives, says Wendy Wagner at Gowling WLG (Canada) LLP. “Use of de-identified or anonymized data in healthcare is one of the most difficult things that I think that we’re all grappling with right now.”
Regulators are stepping up, and the Quebec and federal governments have introduced laws for digital and AI technologies. Even before these laws take effect, litigation and class actions are looming.
The wonders of AI have captured the public’s attention. This is an opportunity for tech and health innovators to show the public why smart regulation is the obvious next step.