FTC Reminds Advertisers to Keep AI Claims in Check

A recent post on the FTC’s Business Blog notes that although there may be disagreement about what artificial intelligence” or AI” is, those terms are being used in marketing campaigns, and the FTC worries that some advertisers won’t be able to stop themselves from overusing and abusing them.” To help those advertisers out, the FTC’s post includes four questions that they should ask themselves.

  1. Are you exaggerating what your AI product can do? It’s exciting to think about what may be possible, but it’s important to ensure that your claims are factually accurate, that you can support those claims, and that you disclose any material limitations.
  1. Are you promising that your AI product does something better than a non-AI product? The post notes that it’s not uncommon for advertisers to say that some new-fangled technology makes their product better.” New-fangled” is arguably an old-fangled term to use when talking about AI, but that’s beside the point. The point is that you need adequate proof for that kind of comparative claim.”
  1. Are you aware of the risks? You should think about reasonably foreseeable risks and impact of your AI product before putting it on the market.” For example, if you create an AI-powered cyborg and it starts wreaking havoc on humanity, that’s on you. (That may not be precisely what the FTC had in mind, but we’re reading between the lines. Anyway, see our warning about the dangers of cyborgs and bots here.)
  1. Does the product actually use AI at all? Don’t think you can get away with saying that a product is AI-enabled if it isn’t. And remember that there’s a difference between using an AI tool to develop the product and having AI in the product. FTC technologists and others can look under the hood and analyze other materials to see if what’s inside matches up with your claims.”

These messages aren’t new, but they are helpful reminders to companies as they consider their claims about AI. As the post concludes: You don’t need a machine to predict what the FTC might do when those claims are unsupported.”