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We like to think the FTC Business Blog offers an occasional notable quote – or quotable note – on the issues businesses and consumers are talking about. Right now no topic is more top-of-mind than artificial intelligence. That’s why we’re pleased that Aspen Digital has named a Business Blog post by FTC attorney Mike Atleson to its first Reporting on AI Hall of Fame

Aspen Digital – a program of the nonprofit Aspen Institute – put out a public call for submissions of excellent descriptions of AI in recent reporting. They received hundreds of excerpts from a wide range of publications – everything from student papers to mainstream publications. We’re thrilled that Mike’s post, The Luring Test: AI and the engineering of consumer trust, received national recognition as one of the year’s best. What’s more, it was the only award winner from a government agency.

We agree with the Hall of Fame sponsors that when it comes to AI, people need help “finding the words to describe these complex systems in an accessible, accurate manner.” And they don’t come any more accessible and accurate than Mike’s post. Here’s one quote that earned it a place in the Hall of Fame: 

“In the 2014 movie Ex Machina, a robot manipulates someone into freeing it from its confines, resulting in the person being confined instead. The robot was designed to manipulate that person’s emotions, and, oops, that’s what it did. While the scenario is pure speculative fiction, companies are always looking for new ways – such as the use of generative AI tools – to better persuade people and change their behavior.”

What drew Aspen Digital to that particular post? “Atleson centers companies as designers of AI tools (‘the robot was designed’ and ‘the use of generative AI tools’), specifies the type of tools being used (generative AI), and highlights the purpose of the tools (to better persuade people). The author also uses an accessible metaphor to get their point across.”

Here are some reasons we’ve put that post in our personal Hall of Fame: 1) the pun in the title that harkens back to digital pioneer Alan Turing’s Turing Test, an evaluation of a technology’s ability to mimic human intelligence; 2) the use of the word “luring,” which ties in the FTC Act’s prohibition on deceptive and unfair practices; and 3) a popular culture reference to a movie to help drive home the underlying point.

Best of all, Mike’s post wasn’t a one-and-done blurb. It’s part of an ongoing blog series called AI and Your Business. (Read his Luring Test post for links to others in the series.) Our blog posts on AI are designed to send clear and unequivocal messages from the FTC to industry that there is no AI exception to consumer protection laws. We aim to cut through the hype and misdirection to remind the public that it’s about companies deciding how to sell or use technology, not about technology deciding how to use the public.  

At the FTC, we employ every tool at our disposal to carry out our commitment to protect consumers and promote fair competition. Law enforcement, rulemaking, and research are three key components. Education is also central to our mission and we’re dedicated to doing that in an engaging way that makes readers ask “Is that really a government blog?” As we promised in the first Business Blog post in 2010, our goal is to inform people with “a minimum of ho-hum, a maximum of how-to, and as little yadda yadda yadda as a legal website can manage.” We think the FTC Business Blog – especially Mike Atleson’s award-winning post – is playing an important role in using to-the-point language and refreshing imagery to educate the public about both the promise and the perils posed by AI. 


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April 22, 2024


Ai Humans
May 14, 2024

I appreciate the detailed explanation you provided. It made the subject much easier to understand.

May 28, 2024


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