Artificial intelligence (AI), a cutting-edge technology, has sparked debate ever since it entered the everyday lives of regular people. Experts are unsure whether the technology heralds the dawn of science or the end of the world.
Following up on that discussion, European Union consumer protection organisations urged regulators on Tuesday to look into the kind of artificial intelligence powering ChatGPT, citing potential dangers that put people at risk and the time lag before the bloc's ground-breaking AI regulations take effect.
In a coordinated effort, 13 watchdog organisations sent letters to their national competition, consumer, data protection, and product safety authorities, alerting them to a number of issues with generative AI.
In a letter to US President Joe Biden, a transatlantic alliance of consumer advocacy organisations also urged him to take steps to safeguard consumers from potential generative AI harms, according to ABC News.
Recently, a new breed of AI has emerged, giving chatbots like ChatGPT the ability to produce text, images, videos, and audio that resemble human work. Europe has led the world in efforts to regulate AI, which have become more urgent as a result.
Currently, the world's first comprehensive set of rules for the technology is being finalised by the EU, but they will not go into effect for another two years.
The groups urged European and American leaders to use already-existing laws as well as introduce new legislation to address the potential negative effects of generative AI.
They cited a report by the Norwegian Consumer Council outlining the risks posed by AI chatbots, including the provision of false medical information, manipulation of people, fabrication of news stories, and unauthorised use of sizable amounts of personal data obtained from the internet.
Meanwhile, consumer advocacy organisations from nations such as Italy, Spain, Sweden, the Netherlands, Greece, and Denmark warn that although the EU's AI Act addresses some of the issues, it will not go into effect for several years, "leaving consumers unprotected from a technology that is insufficiently regulated in the meantime and developing at a great pace."
Authorities have already taken some action. The maker of ChatGPT, OpenAI, was ordered by Italy's privacy watchdog to temporarily cease processing user personal data while it looked into a potential data breach. Additionally, OpenAI and ChatGPT are being investigated in France, Spain, and Canada.
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