AI researchers and creators are not always able to detect all possible bugs in their software. So software vendors are offering rewards to ethical hackers, technology enthusiasts, safety researchers, and programmers to do this for them. In 2021 already, Twitter announced a competition for computer researchers and hackers. Entrants were tasked with finding biases in its image cropping algorithm, the company acknowledging that the algorithm favoured white people and men. Twitter awarded winners cash rewards of up to $3,500 while Zoom paid $3.9 million to bug-bounty hunters in the fiscal year 2023. More recently, OpenAI announced its own initiative, offering up to $20 000 to anyone finding bugs in ChatGPT.
Why is it important?
It is important because it is creating a new category of jobs for hackers. The hope is that this will persuade hackers to bring problems directly to the vendor instead of exploiting them to create trouble or chaos. Exposing flaws results in cyber companies being able to offer a more secure service with fewer built-in biases. Critics of bug bounties, however, argue that if the company hired enough cybersecurity professionals in the first place there would be no need to go to the marketplace to offer a bounty for finding bugs and errors.
What can businesses do about it?
Businesses that have their own in-house AI systems would be well advised to incorporate bug bounty programmes to check the robustness and ethics of these systems. It would take thousands of hackers to detect all possible bugs in AI systems. Companies clearly can’t afford to hire this many individuals so a bounty system represents a more affordable alternative.
Businesses who use AI systems stand to benefit from their platform providers offering bug bounties to hackers.
By Faeeza Khan
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Image credit: Sora Shimazaki