The ethics of ChatGPT – Exploring the ethical issues of an emerging technology




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Peer reviewed



This article explores ethical issues raised by generative conversational AI systems like ChatGPT. It applies established approaches for analysing ethics of emerging technologies to undertake a systematic review of possible benefits and concerns. The methodology combines ethical issues identified by Anticipatory Technology Ethics, Ethical Impact Assessment, and Ethical Issues of Emerging ICT Applications with AI-specific issues from the literature. These are applied to analyse ChatGPT's capabilities to produce humanlike text and interact seamlessly. The analysis finds ChatGPT could provide high-level societal and ethical benefits. However, it also raises significant ethical concerns across social justice, individual autonomy, cultural identity, and environmental issues. Key high-impact concerns include responsibility, inclusion, social cohesion, autonomy, safety, bias, accountability, and environmental impacts. While the current discourse focuses narrowly on specific issues such as authorship, this analysis systematically uncovers a broader, more balanced range of ethical issues worthy of attention. Findings are consistent with emerging research and industry priorities on ethics of generative AI. Implications include the need for diverse stakeholder engagement, considering benefits and risks holistically when developing applications, and multi-level policy interventions to promote positive outcomes. Overall, the analysis demonstrates that applying established ethics of technology methodologies can produce a rigorous, comprehensive foundation to guide discourse and action around impactful emerging technologies like ChatGPT. The paper advocates sustaining this broad, balanced ethics perspective as use cases unfold to realize benefits while addressing ethical downsides.


open access article


ChatGPT, Ethics, Emerging technology, Generative AI systems, AI


Stahl, B. and Eke, D. (2024) The ethics of ChatGPT – Exploring the ethical issues of an emerging technology. International Journal of Information Management, 74, 102700


Research Institute

Centre for Computing and Social Responsibility (CCSR)