ChatGPT Comes Under Investigation by Federal Trade Commission | Kanebridge News
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ChatGPT Comes Under Investigation by Federal Trade Commission

FTC is examining whether the artificial-intelligence app harmed people by publishing false information

By JOHN D. MCKINNON
Fri, Jul 14, 2023 9:20amGrey Clock 4 min

WASHINGTON—The Federal Trade Commission is investigating whether OpenAI’s ChatGPT has harmed people by publishing false information about them, posing a potential legal threat to the popular app that can generate eerily humanlike content using artificial intelligence.

In a civil subpoena to the company made public Thursday, the FTC says its investigation of ChatGPT focuses on whether OpenAI has “engaged in unfair or deceptive practices relating to risks of harm to consumers, including reputational harm.”

One question asks the company to “describe in detail the extent to which you have taken steps to address or mitigate risks that your large language model products could generate statements about real individuals that are false, misleading or disparaging.”

The new FTC investigation under Chair Lina Khan marks a significant escalation of the federal government’s role in policing the emerging technology.

Khan, who appeared before the House Judiciary Committee on Thursday, said the agency is concerned that ChatGPT and other AI-driven apps have no checks on the data they can mine.

“We’ve heard about reports where people’s sensitive information is showing up in response to an inquiry from somebody else,” Khan said. “We’ve heard about libel, defamatory statements, flatly untrue things that are emerging. That’s the type of fraud and deception that we are concerned about.”

For critics of the FTC, the probe represented another venture into uncharted territory for an agency that has suffered recent legal setbacks in its antitrust enforcement efforts.

“When ChatGPT says something wrong about somebody and might have caused damage to their reputation, is that a matter for the FTC’s jurisdiction? I don’t think that’s clear at all,” said Adam Kovacevich, founder of Chamber of Progress, an industry trade group.

Such matters “are more in the realm of speech and it becomes speech regulation, which is beyond their authority,” he said.

OpenAI didn’t respond to requests for comment.

Marc Rotenberg, who heads a group that filed an FTC complaint over ChatGPT in March, said it might be unclear whether the FTC has jurisdiction over defamation. But “misleading advertising is clearly within the FTC’s purview,” said Rotenberg, president of the Center for AI and Digital Policy. “And disinformation relating to commercial practices is already, according to the FTC, an area within its authority.”

Rotenberg’s group filed a complaint with the FTC in March concerning ChatGPT, terming it “biased, deceptive and a risk to privacy and public safety,” and arguing that it satisfies none of the FTC’s guidelines for AI use.

The FTC has broad authority to police unfair and deceptive business practices that can harm consumers, as well as unfair competition, but critics say Khan has sometimes pushed its authority too far—as illustrated by a federal judge’s decision this week to dismiss the FTC’s attempt to block Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard.

At the House committee hearing Thursday, Khan came under fire for her agency’s investigation of Twitter’s privacy protections for consumers. Republicans say the probe was driven by progressives angry over Elon Musk’s takeover of Twitter and his loosening of content moderation policies. And Twitter asked a federal court Thursday to terminate a 2022 settlement it agreed to with the FTC over alleged privacy violations, saying it had been subject to a “burdensome and vexatious enforcement investigation.”

Khan responded that the agency was only interested in protecting the privacy of users and that “we are doing everything to make sure Twitter is complying with the order.”

In its civil subpoena to OpenAI, the FTC asked the company detailed questions about its data-security practices. It cited a 2020 incident in which the company disclosed a bug that allowed users to see information about other users’ chats and some payment-related information.

Other topics covered by the FTC subpoena include the company’s marketing efforts, its practices for training AI models, and its handling of users’ personal information. The FTC inquiry was reported earlier by the Washington Post.

The Biden administration has begun examining whether checks need to be placed on artificial-intelligence tools such as ChatGPT. In a first step toward potential regulation, the Commerce Department in April put out a formal public request for comment on what it called accountability measures.

The White House’s Office of Science Technology Policy is also working to develop strategies to address both the benefits of AI, such as the possibility of using it to expand access to government services, as well as harms such as increased hacking capabilities, discriminatory decisions by AI systems, and the potential for AI-generated content to disrupt elections.

Lawmakers in both parties—led by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.)—also have made regulating artificial intelligence a priority for the current Congress.

In addition to concerns about potential reputational risks, lawmakers say they worry that AI tools can be abused to manipulate voters with disinformation, discriminate against minority groups, commit sophisticated financial crimes, displace millions of workers or create other harms. Lawmakers have been especially concerned about the risks of so-called deepfake videos that falsely depict real people taking embarrassing actions or making embarrassing statements.

But new legislation or other measures are likely months away, if not longer. And lawmakers must worry that any significant action they take will risk slowing the pace of U.S. innovation, in what is shaping up as a vital competition with China to dominate the markets for AI tools.

Even ChatGPT’s creators have urged more government oversight of AI development.

In a hearing before Congress in May, OpenAI Chief Executive Sam Altman called on Congress to create licensing and safety standards for advanced artificial-intelligence systems, as lawmakers begin a bipartisan push toward regulating the powerful new tools available to consumers.

“We understand that people are anxious about how it can change the way we live. We are, too,” Sam Altman said of AI technology at the Senate subcommittee hearing. “If this technology goes wrong, it can go quite wrong.”

Altman has been traveling the world talking about both the promise and perils of AI, including meeting with heads of state including French President Emmanuel Macron and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.



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AACCI’s Strategic Vision for Enhancing Australia-Arab Trade Relations

The Australian Arab Chamber of Commerce & Industry (AACCI) is fostering robust trade relations between Australia and Arab countries.

Mon, May 20, 2024 5 min

In an era where global trade and international relationships are more crucial than ever, the Australia Arab Chamber of Commerce & Industry (AACCI) serves as a bridge, for cooperation and growth between Australia and the Arab nations. Led by its Chairman, Mr. Mohamed Hage, the AACCI has taken on projects aimed at strengthening relationships and fostering development across borders.

This exclusive interview explores the initiatives implemented by the AACCI to expand its presence and influence in the region including the significant establishment of a new operational hub in Dubai. We also delve into how the Chamber embraces education through training and research, its participation in major international exhibitions, and its active support for both large corporations and small businesses.

Looking towards tomorrow, Mr. Mohamed shares his vision for broadening AACCI’s reach emphasizing the importance of the on-ground operations and cultural understanding in building business connections.

-Could you elaborate on the Australia Arab Chamber of Commerce & Industry, including its objectives and main areas of focus?

The Australia Arab Chamber of Commerce & Industry (AACCI) plays a fundamental role, in promoting business partnerships and trade between Australia and the 22 Arab countries. As a member of the Union of Arab Chambers affiliated with the Arab League, AACCI focuses on strengthening trade and investment ties, across these countries.

To nurture these connections effectively AACCI has outlined four objectives: facilitating trade and investment activities, certifying documents, educating stakeholders, and offering marketing assistance.

Our initiatives are designed not only to empower trade and investment endeavors but to also ensure engagement with specific sectors that drive these activities. With an understanding of the characteristics, strengths and preferences of each country, AACCI prides itself on its specialized knowledge customized to suit the distinct business environments of these nations.

– As the AACCI approaches its 50th anniversary, what have been some of the key milestones and achievements?

I believe one of AACCI’s accomplishments is the opportunities it has opened up for numerous Australian companies to access markets, in the region. Moreover, the strong bilateral trade relationship that has developed between Australia and the 22 Arab nations over the five decades has led to trade transactions amounting to billions of dollars.

This extensive trade covers industries such as food and beverages, luxury hotels and many more services. Each successive generation, within AACCI has built upon the foundation laid by its predecessors enriching their knowledge base and expanding their range of services.

– How does the AACCI leverage its diverse leadership team to enhance trade and investment opportunities between Australia and the Arab region?

Since taking on the role of chairman, my main focus has been on expanding our presence in the region. This led to the idea of opening an office in Dubai, which symbolizes our dedication to deepening our engagement in that area. We have successfully secured the license to open our first office in Dubai after 50 years, which will serve as a gateway to the GCC and North Africa.

I strongly believe that building two-way trade and investment ties requires more than a degree of business connectivity; it demands having local representatives present in each region. With trends emphasizing strategies the value of face-to-face engagements cannot be overstated.

Setting up offices in the region is essential for the Chamber to truly serve as a link and support system for business activities. Ultimately this expansion will bring benefits to our members and partners by providing them with access, to dynamic markets and diverse prospects.

– Can you discuss the significance of AACCI’s role in cultural and business exchanges between the two regions?

The importance of understanding cultures in our operations cannot be overstated. To address this, we have included a training platform within the Chamber to strengthen our cultural awareness initiatives. This new program offers our members access to modules on our website focusing on global business practices.

Furthermore, we have set up a Center of Excellence specifically dedicated to researching areas like food security and cultural awareness. These research endeavors are essential for promoting knowledge between the two regions.

By combining the resources of the Center of Excellence, our training resources, and the forthcoming local office in Dubai, we’re providing cultural awareness not only in the region but also in Australia. This approach ensures that our members are well equipped and knowledgeable boosting their effectiveness and involvement, in markets.

– What is the objective of your on-ground presence at conferences and events?

Participating in conferences and on ground events is very important for increasing awareness in industries like construction where knowledge of opportunities in the Arab world may not be widespread. When we see projects such as NEOM or notice the construction boom happening in the region it becomes important for organizations like the Chamber of Commerce to highlight these prospects. By taking part in large scale expos such as the Sydney Build Expo we position ourselves at the forefront of these advancements.

Our presence at these events enables interaction giving entrepreneurs a chance to visit our booth engage in discussions and learn more about the region in an approachable and personalized manner. This plays a role in simplifying the process and making opportunities concrete.

– With such a diverse membership base, how does AACCI tailor its services to meet the needs of both large corporations and small startups?

When it comes to discussing business it’s important to grasp how influence and vision come into play. Businesses looking to expand are often motivated by a desire to achieve something whether they are big companies or small enterprises. Small businesses typically aim to raise their brands profile while larger corporations seek recognition and market dominance.

Standing out in this area can be tough mainly because the key driving force is the passion to showcase the brand and products on a platform. This determination serves as a motivator for entrepreneurs.

At the Chamber we make a point of recognizing the needs of both big and small players by understanding each members individual situation. We ensure that every member is well informed about the opportunities and risks that come with expanding. For small businesses, this means being aware of the financial demands, while large businesses are advised on the necessity of both financial and emotional resilience.

– How does AACCI plan to expand or evolve its services in the coming years to further support its members?

The importance of having resources on the ground cannot be emphasized enough. Having local staff is key to establishing connections with the communities we serve. Without a presence in the area staying updated on events and activities becomes quite challenging.

This is why, as I’ve mentioned before, we have established an office in Dubai, staffed with personnel dedicated to supporting our members. This local office will help us effectively bridge the gap between Australia and the Arab world. And our members will benefit from insights and assistance from someone who truly knows the landscape.

In Australia we have equipped offices throughout the country staffed by individuals who play a significant role in our operations. This strong domestic network complements our efforts ensuring that we provide support to our members both locally and globally. This strategic approach is crucial, for nurturing business relationships and fostering continental understanding.

 

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