The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has launched an investigation into OpenAI Inc. regarding potential risks to consumer data and reputations associated with its popular ChatGPT conversational AI bot, according to an individual familiar with the matter.
This inquiry marks the first official investigation into the technology that holds the potential to revolutionize numerous aspects of daily life but has also raised concerns about potential pitfalls.
FTC Chair Lina Khan, who testified before Congress on Thursday, has previously expressed apprehension about artificial intelligence (AI), emphasizing the need for vigilance and early oversight with transformative tools like AI. OpenAI, backed by Microsoft, stated that it will cooperate with the FTC, highlighting the importance of safety and being pro-consumer.
The investigation carries significant implications for both OpenAI and the broader AI innovation sector. It suggests that regulators are taking a proactive approach to ensuring ethical and responsible operations within AI companies.
OpenAI’s ChatGPT app, built on a large language model trained on vast amounts of internet text, has spurred competition among companies striving to develop their own conversational AI bots.
The rapid advancement of AI technology has led to calls for regulation and a pause in the training of advanced AI systems. OpenAI CEO Sam Altman has advocated for safety standards for AI, emphasizing the potential risks associated with the technology.
A complaint filed earlier this year by a tech ethics group also urged the FTC to investigate and establish necessary safeguards to protect consumers and the commercial marketplace.
The FTC’s inquiry includes an examination of potential unfair or deceptive practices that may have caused reputational harm to consumers. Additionally, it seeks information pertaining to a security incident that OpenAI disclosed in March and involved a bug that exposed user chat history data as well as payment-related information.
FTC Chair Lina Khan recently faced scrutiny in a Congressional hearing, where Republican lawmakers criticized her adherence to ethics laws and aggressive antitrust enforcement, labeling her leadership as contentious.