Nearly three quarters (73%) of business executives responding to a global survey conducted by merger and acquisition software provider Datasite said they support artificial intelligence regulation as they grapple with some of the risks and uncertainties surrounding the technology.
Thirty-six percent of respondents identified data security and privacy concerns as the biggest obstacle to incorporating generative AI into their business, ahead of other barriers, including a lack of competence and expertise (26%), the technology’s immaturity or need for more validation (20%), and unclear use cases (12%), according to a Wednesday press release from Datasite, which polled 500 senior-level M&A professionals across the U.S., U.K., France, and Germany.
Generative AI is “brand new, and there are a lot of concerns around it,” Ashish Pagey, Datasite vice president of AI and machine learning, said in an interview. The survey found that 14% of dealmakers have seen a deal derailed because of AI-related concerns, he noted.
The findings come as policymakers and regulators in the U.S. and abroad are looking to address some of the risks associated with the sudden rise of generative AI, which is technology capable of producing text, images, or other content based on data used to “train” it.
“Emerging technologies, such as artificial intelligence, hold both enormous potential and enormous peril,” President Joe Biden said last month in a speech to the United Nations General Assembly. The U.S. is working with other nations to “strengthen rules and policies so AI technologies are safe before they are released to the public,” he said.
On Sept. 12, the White House announced that eight technology companies, including Salesforce, Adobe, IBM, and Nvidia, were added to a group that had committed to adhering to a set of voluntary safeguards for the technology, including developing “robust technical mechanisms” to ensure that users know when content is AI-generated, such as a watermarking system; publicly reporting their AI systems’ capabilities, limitations, and areas of appropriate and inappropriate use; and prioritizing research on the societal risks that AI systems can pose, including on avoiding harmful bias and discrimination, and protecting privacy.
The topic is also gathering attention on Capitol Hill. Last month, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., hosted a closed-door AI summit with leading technology executives, for example. During the meeting, participants loosely endorsed the idea of government rules for AI, according to an Associated Press report. Attendees included Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla and X, formerly known as Twitter; Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Meta; and Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google parent Alphabet.
The EU is likely to be the first region in the world to enact some form of oversight or regulation around generative AI, Business Insider reported Tuesday. The European Commission is in late-stage negotiations over legislation dubbed the AI Act, the publication said.
An August survey from KPMG found that 80% of executives believe generative AI will disrupt their industry and 93% think it will provide value to their business. However, respondents weighing AI adoption were worried about the risk of regulatory uncertainty, which ranked as the most significant barrier to implementation, CFO Dive previously reported.
When it comes to dealmaking, professionals in the field expect generative AI to have the biggest impact on enhancing processes related to their work, followed by improving deal intelligence and making better deal decisions, according to the Datasite survey. More than half of the respondents said generative AI could speed up M&A deals by 26% to 50%, and another 15% of those surveyed said it could help reduce M&A costs or improve risk identification.
“From automating manual, repetitive tasks, such as organizing and categorizing files in preparation of due diligence, to powering data analysis to increase value and accelerate M&A integration, AI is already reshaping various phases of the dealmaking process,” Datasite CEO Rusty Wiley said in the Wednesday release. “However, there is a healthy awareness of the challenges associated with GenAI, and acknowledgment that establishing systems, processes and regulatory frameworks are critical to effectively harnessing its benefits and mitigating risks.”