5 Potential Negative Health Effects of Generative AI Technology – MUO – MakeUseOf

AI chatbots and related technology promise a wide range of potential benefits, but there are downsides to consider, especially in the health space.
ChatGPT and other language learning technologies have emerged as powerful tools, and they are only beginning to impact fields like healthcare. However, it's crucial to exercise caution when it comes to using these tools in regard to your own health. While their potential is promising, understanding the limitations and risks associated with these technologies is essential. Here's how ChatGPT and similar generative AI systems may impact your well-being.
Although the term AI anxiety has been around for a few years now, according to The Journal of the Association for Information Science and Technology, AI's rapid growth continues to concern many individuals. Worries about everything from job automation to an extinction-level event can fall under the umbrella of AI anxiety, or the unease that grows from this technology and its far-reaching effects.
Fortunately, there are ways to resist AI anxiety while still keeping up with this technology's fast development. For instance, educating yourself about chatbots and incorporating some AI into your own life can help remove some of its mystique, according to Everyday Health.
For many people, the unknown factor is part of what makes AI's rapid rise so concerning, so familiarizing yourself with the basics is a smart starting point. Although it may sound a bit counterintuitive, playing around with Bard or ChatGPT can help make the apps more approachable overall.
The authoritative way generative models like ChatGPT respond to prompts can make it seem like they know everything. However, it’s important to take their responses with a grain of salt, particularly when it comes to health questions.
Although ChatGPT can provide reliable health information in some cases, it’s still possible for the app to hallucinate and provide inaccurate health advice. Chances are, you don't trust Google search results to provide personalized, accurate health data, so it's wise to approach AI technology with the same type of caution.
If you have any serious questions about your health, it’s still best to bring these to your healthcare provider. In addition, healthcare professionals have the ability to consider a wide range of factors, including your medical history, symptoms, and overall well-being. AI models may not address all these factors with the same amount of comprehension (at least, not quite yet).
In fact, apps like ChatGPT will also reiterate this information when prompted, so take its cue and contact your doctor about health concerns. Even the best language model isn't equipped to provide personalized diagnoses.
Technology addiction is already a concern. In particular, social media addiction, as well as an addiction to smartphones, have come to the forefront in recent years. For many people, these habit-forming technologies are hard to put down, and people online are informally reporting feelings of addiction in regard to ChatGPT and similar AI applications.
In fact, experts posit that AI technology will make issues with digital addiction more pronounced in the coming years, according to the Pew Research Center. "Digital addiction, already an issue for many who play video games, watch TikTok or YouTube videos, or who hang on every tweet, could become an even greater problem as these and other digital channels become even more personalized and appeal to base instincts for eyeballs," said Gary Grossman, senior vice president and global lead of the AI Center of Excellence at Edelman, in the report.
Although this may sound dire, there are definitely steps you can take to reduce dependence on internet use, AI, and technology in general. Taking frequent breaks, spending your free time away from screens, and simply keeping track of the reasons why you tend to spend time on AI can help curb these impulses, according to Duke University. Going offline for a bit is often a healthy option.
For many people, it's easy to use resources like ChatGPT for everyday questions. The next time you want to learn more about a particular health condition, for instance, you might turn to these chatbots for rapid responses.
Although they are quick and simple to use, AI language tools may not protect any private health data that you enter, as the World Health Organization warns. Take care if you want to write prompts about sensitive or otherwise private health conditions.
Speaking with your healthcare provider is still a more reliable—and secure—way to address any health concerns. When it comes to any information you'd rather keep to yourself, avoid typing it into an AI prompt.
Unfortunately, new technology often has the potential to cause harm. Similar to troll bots, misused AI generative language models can rapidly generate harmful and harassing comments, according to the Cyberbullying Research Center. This can cause stress and emotional harm to the targeted person.
Because AI models make it possible to automate these cruel messages and generate them on a large scale, individuals may get overwhelmed by a huge number of comments across many platforms. No one wants to deal with this type of content every time you check social media or send an email.
This is (unfortunately) not a new problem, so there are already many ways to protect yourself from cyberbullying. Documenting the messages, as well as reaching out for support from website administrators or your phone company, are excellent first steps, according to the Cyberbullying Research Center.
Most social media sites already have policies in place for dealing with these obnoxious messages from cyberbullies. For instance, here's how to report bothersome messages to Facebook, report abusive messages to Instagram, and contact TikTok's moderation team. Report content, block troublesome users, and adjust privacy settings to reduce your cyberbullying risks.
For the most part, the growth of AI language learning technology may change the way many people approach healthcare. With resources and advice from experts, however, you can use the apps responsibly when it comes to your mental and physical health. This includes managing AI anxiety, as well as verifying information with healthcare professionals. Take these steps to protect your health and well-being while exploring new AI technologies.
Lindsay E. Mack is a seasoned writer with a focus on health and fitness technology, having authored over 2,000 articles for various industries over the past decade. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and a Master of Business Administration. As an active athlete and early adopter of fitness apps, she loves testing new technology for MUO’s readers.