Saturday, September 30, 2023

ChatGPT Creator OpenAI Investigated by US Authorities 

Associated Press
July 14, 2023 | 11:40 am
FILE - The OpenAI logo is seen on a mobile phone in front of a computer screen displaying output from ChatGPT, March 21, 2023, in Boston. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer, File)
FILE - The OpenAI logo is seen on a mobile phone in front of a computer screen displaying output from ChatGPT, March 21, 2023, in Boston. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer, File)

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission has launched an investigation into ChatGPT creator OpenAI and whether the artificial intelligence company violated consumer protection laws by scraping public data and publishing false information through its chatbot.

The agency sent OpenAI a 20-page letter requesting detailed information on its AI technology, products, customers, privacy safeguards and data security arrangements.

An FTC spokesperson had no comment on the investigation, which was first reported by the Washington Post on Thursday.

The FTC document the Post published told OpenAI the agency was investigating whether it has “engaged in unfair or deceptive privacy or data security practices” or practices harming consumers.


OpenAI founder Sam Altman tweeted disappointment that the investigation was disclosed in a “leak,” noting that the move would “not help build trust,” but added that the company will work with the FTC.

“It’s super important to us that our technology is safe and pro-consumer, and we are confident we follow the law,” he wrote. “We protect user privacy and design our systems to learn about the world, not private individuals.”

The FTC's move represents the most significant regulatory threat so far to the nascent but fast-growing AI industry, although it's not the only challenge facing these companies. Comedian Sarah Silverman and two other authors have sued both OpenAI and Facebook parent Meta for copyright infringement, claiming that the companies' AI systems were illegally “trained” by exposing them to datasets containing illegal copies of their works.

On Thursday, OpenAI and The Associated Press announced a deal under which the AI company will license AP’s archive of news stories.

Altman has emerged as a global AI ambassador of sorts following his testimony before Congress in May and a subsequent tour of European capitals where regulators were putting final touches on a new AI regulatory framework. Altman himself has called for AI regulation, although he has tended to emphasize difficult-to-evaluate existential threats such as the possibility that superintelligent AI systems could one day turn against humanity

Some argue that focusing on a far-off “science fiction trope” of superpowerful AI could make it harder to take action against already existing harms that require regulators to dig deep into data transparency, discriminatory behavior and potential for trickery and disinformation.

“It’s the fear of these systems and our lack of understanding of them that is making everyone have a collective freak-out,” Suresh Venkatasubramanian, a Brown University computer scientist and former assistant director for science and justice at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, told the AP in May. “This fear, which is very unfounded, is a distraction from all the concerns we’re dealing with right now.”

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