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Federal regulators launch investigation into ChatGPT creator OpenAI

The Federal Trade Commission is investigating whether the company engaged in "unfair or deceptive" data security practices that harmed consumers.
Posted at 10:39 AM, Jul 14, 2023

Federal regulators have launched an investigation into the creator of the popular artificial intelligence tool ChatGPT.

The Federal Trade Commission is looking into whether OpenAI violated consumer protection laws by engaging in "unfair or deceptive data security practices" that could harm consumers, according to a 20-page letter from regulators that was published by the Washington Post. The FTC says ChatGPT has the potential to generate false or misleading statements that could cause "reputational harm" to individuals. It also believes the company may be using public data to train the AI tool.

OpenAI CEO Sam Altman took to Twitter to express disappointment that the federal probe was published in a "leak," saying the move would "not help build trust" but that his company would cooperate with the investigation.

"It's super important to us that [our] technology is safe and pro-consumer, and we are confident we follow the law. of course we will work with the FTC," Altman tweeted. 

"We protect user privacy and design our systems to learn about the world, not private individuals," he added.

OpenAI CEO Sam Altman

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The Biden administration has been trying to get out in front of the quickly evolving AI industry and plans to issue a new regulatory framework in the coming months. Vice President Kamala Harris met with the leaders of four tech companies earlier this year, including Google and Microsoft, both of which have their own AI systems. 

"AI is one of today's most powerful technologies, with the potential to improve people's lives and tackle some of society's biggest challenges," Harris said after the meeting in May. "At the same time, AI has the potential to dramatically increase threats to safety and security, infringe (on) civil rights and privacy, and erode public trust and faith in democracy." 

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Congress has also held a series of hearings this year to discuss the potential harms that could arise from AI, although some lawmakers claim it may be too late. Altman himself, along with several other industry leaders — like Elon Musk and Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak — have called for more AI regulation.