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Rage Against the Machine: Italy slaps ban on ChatGPT

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The ban comes amid mounting alarm over the current dramatic upsurge in AI use, which poses numerous dangers to the global economy and society.

The Italian Data Protection Authority (Garante per la protezione dei dati personali) has spearheaded an anti-AI move, with the first-ever government-imposed ban on the chatbot, ChatGPT, over privacy concerns. The regulator cited a major breach leading to the leakage of user data, including private conversations and payment information.

The watchdog also expressed concern over “the mass collection and storage of personal data for the purpose of ‘training’ the algorithms underlying the operation of the platform.”

What also worries Italian officials is the fact that ChatGPT does not verify the age of users and the app “exposes minors to absolutely unsuitable answers compared to their degree of development and awareness.”

The data protection authority is threatening to fine OpenAI (the developer of ChatGPT) $21.7 million unless these concerns are addressed in three weeks.

Previously, high-profile tech gurus and business executives, like Elon Musk and Steve Wozniak, penned an open letter calling for a six-month pause in the development of AI systems that are more advanced than GPT-4.

The authors allege that “AI systems with human-competitive intelligence can pose profound risks to society and humanity.” The most glaring problem, associated with artificial intelligence, is unemployment, according to a Goldman Sachs report. The study says these intelligent machines can wipe out roughly 300 mln full-time jobs across the globe.

However, there is another risk – much more subtle in nature and simultaneously – disastrous in its possible consequences, called the AI alignment problem. Since AI is encoded with some ultimate goal, and to achieve it, this technology may stop at nothing and act with no regard for morality or social values.

Many experts agree that this risk is rather hypothetical, but they also admit that the AI industry must be properly regulated to eliminate any possible threat to the economy and society.

Image credit: Andrew Neel

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