US regulators have launched an investigation into OpenAI, an artificial intelligence company, concerning the potential risks posed to consumers by ChatGPT generating false information. This regulatory inquiry reflects the growing scrutiny surrounding AI technology.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) sent a letter to OpenAI, which is supported by Microsoft, requesting details on how the company addresses reputational risks for ChatGPT.
ChatGPT revolutionizes information retrieval by swiftly providing users with human-like responses instead of traditional search result links. As the technology garners significant attention, various tech competitors are rushing to develop their own versions. However, controversies have arisen, including debates on data usage, response accuracy, and potential violations of authors’ rights during the technology’s training phase.
The FTC’s letter specifically inquires about OpenAI’s measures to handle potential falsehoods, misleading statements, disparagement, or harm arising from its products. The commission also examines OpenAI’s approach to data privacy and its acquisition of data for training and informing the AI system.
In response to the investigation, OpenAI CEO Sam Altman expressed the company’s commitment to collaborating with the FTC. Altman highlighted the extensive safety research conducted by OpenAI over the years, emphasizing their efforts to ensure ChatGPT’s safety and alignment prior to its release. He reassured the public that user privacy protection and a focus on learning about the world, rather than individuals’ private lives, are integral to OpenAI’s design principles.
Altman previously testified before Congress, acknowledging that AI technology is not immune to errors. He advocated for regulatory frameworks and the creation of a new agency to oversee AI safety. Altman warned of the potential risks associated with AI gone wrong, stating that OpenAI aims to work with the government to prevent such scenarios and expects the technology to significantly impact various sectors, including employment.
While OpenAI has not provided a comment to the BBC regarding the FTC’s investigation, the Washington Post initially reported on the inquiry, releasing a copy of the letter. The FTC, currently led by Chair Lina Khan, who gained recognition as a Yale law student for criticizing America’s anti-monopoly enforcement concerning Amazon, declined to comment. Appointed by President Joe Biden, Khan has faced criticism for allegedly exceeding the agency’s authority.
During a congressional hearing, Khan faced intense scrutiny from Republican lawmakers regarding her leadership. Although she did not mention the OpenAI investigation, she expressed concerns about ChatGPT’s output, citing instances where sensitive information and defamatory statements appeared as responses to user inquiries. The FTC’s investigation is still in its preliminary stage.