Canada’s Office of the Privacy Commissioner has opened an investigation into OpenAI, the US-based software firm behind the popular AI chatbot ChatGPT. The move comes in response to a complaint alleging that the company has been collecting, using, and disclosing personal information without consent. ChatGPT uses publicly available data to provide detailed answers to user queries, but critics have raised concerns about the source and processing of the data.
Launched last year, ChatGPT caused a sensation with its ability to generate essays, songs, exams, and even news articles from brief prompts. The tool has been added to several of Microsoft’s services and is sometimes seen as a potential competitor to Google’s search engine. However, the investigation by Canada’s regulator highlights the need for increased scrutiny of AI-powered technology.
This move by Canadian authorities follows recent calls for a six-month pause in research on AI systems more powerful than GPT-4, the latest iteration of the software that powers ChatGPT. Billionaire Elon Musk, a founder of OpenAI but no longer a board member, was among hundreds of global experts who signed a letter citing “profound risks to society and humanity” associated with such systems.
Italy recently became the first Western country to block ChatGPT over concerns about data use. Europol, the European police agency, has warned that criminals could exploit conversational bots like ChatGPT to commit fraud and other cybercrimes.
We need to ensure that ethical and privacy concerns related to the increasing prevalence of AI-powered technology are adequately addressed. The investigation into OpenAI’s ChatGPT by Canada’s regulator is a timely reminder of the need for responsible use of this powerful technology.