Will ChatGPT be Banned in the United States?

Will ChatGPT be Banned in the United States?

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OpenAI’s groundbreaking chatbot, ChatGPT, has taken the world by storm since its launch on November 30th. Within just four days of its release, the service had already amassed a staggering 1 million users, and by January, it had surpassed 100 million monthly active users, placing it among the top 50 most visited sites worldwide. Remarkably, ChatGPT’s growth rate outpaced even social media giants TikTok and Instagram.

Unsurprisingly, ChatGPT’s impressive success has garnered widespread praise from influential figures across various industries. Microsoft founder Bill Gates hailed it as the most significant invention since the internet, while Cathie Wood of ARK Invest sees AI technology like ChatGPT as a catalyst for up to 50% GDP growth. Despite the glowing reviews, however, there are those who remain skeptical or even critical of the new technology.

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World-renowned physicist Stephen Hawking had long been sounding the alarm about the potential dangers of Artificial Intelligence (AI), even before the creation of ChatGPT. Hawking had warned that if AI becomes too advanced, it could surpass human intelligence, posing a great threat to humanity. Similarly, entrepreneur Elon Musk has echoed these concerns, citing AI as the most significant existential threat facing humankind.

Musk even went so far as to compare the development of AI to the summoning of a demon, cautioning that just like the guy with a pentagram and holy water in fictional stories, humans may not be able to control the outcome. The question then arises – is ChatGPT the solution to all our problems, or a primitive precursor to a technology that could destabilize humanity?

The uncertainty surrounding the impact of AI has led to regulators and influential figures worldwide taking action, attempting to draft legislation to address these concerns. Let’s explore how different countries are responding to ChatGPT and its potential implications.

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US Response to ChatGPT

There’s currently no indication that the preeminent AI software, which has been sponsored by Microsoft (the second largest company in the United States by market cap), will be banned in the United States. However, with the United States considering a ban on Tiktok due to its potential dangers, anything could happen. 

President Biden held a meeting recently with several advisers and AI experts on the whole of AI. Following the meeting, Biden publicly warned that AI and its effects on society could be “dangerous.” That said, the US has no legislation at all about AI as it stands. That hasn’t stopped some of tech’s biggest players from calling for it, though.

Last week Tesla CEO & OpenAI co-founder Elon Musk, former presidential candidate Andrew Yang, and Apple’s Steve Wozniak penned a letter urging OpenAI to hit the pause button on any updates or training to its AI tool ChatGPT. If OpenAI refuses to implement a 6-month pause, the letter asks world governments to force the issue.

“This pause should be public and verifiable, and include all key actors. If such a pause cannot be enacted quickly, governments should step in,”

Some governments already have.

Italy Bans ChatGPT

Italian regulators have banned the use of ChatGPT in their country, citing concerns over user privacy, age restrictions, and the potential spread of misinformation through the chatbot. This makes Italy the first country in the Western world to ban ChatGPT. The Italian Data Protection Watchdog ordered OpenAI, the creators of ChatGPT, to halt the processing of Italian users’ data due to privacy concerns.

In addition to privacy issues, Italian regulators have raised concerns about the lack of an age restriction on the chatbot. However, the effectiveness of age restrictions on websites has been a subject of debate in the past. The potential for the spread of misinformation through ChatGPT was also highlighted as a concern by Italian authorities.

While these concerns are legitimate, it is worth noting that social media platforms also collect user data and have faced criticism for not doing enough to combat the spread of false information. Nevertheless, the Italian government’s decision to ban ChatGPT reflects growing global concerns over the impact of AI on society.

Italy is not alone in scrutinizing ChatGPT, with other governments and regulators around the world also monitoring the technology’s development and use. German legislators have considered a ban on the platform as well for similar reasons, and the EU has requested a response from OpenAI’s in relation to privacy concerns raised by many of its members. 

China Bans ChatGPT and Similar Platforms

China’s reason for banning ChatGPT and similar AI platforms is likely the least veracious one. According to Chinese legislators, ChatGPT could be used by the US to create false narratives. It remains a question how exactly a ban in the country of China would impact the US’ ability to do that, however. 

More likely, this is part of China’s larger ban on free and available information, which stems from the country’s initiatives to censor the broader internet – referred to as the “Great Firewall” by many.

Russia has a similar pattern of internet censorship, and as such, citizens of its nation have no ability to access ChatGPT without use of a VPN. Russia has echoed sentiments about ChatGPT’s potential use in an information war, which like China’s, is likely fallacious reason for the platform’s ban.

India Wants to Build its Own ChatGPT

While stopping short of an all-out endorsement, India’s government diverges from China and Russia’s. India’s Union Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw has presented an initiative for his country to its own ChatGPT. The Indian government has also made significant investments in technology, and thus hasn’t presented any issue with ChatGPT or other similar platforms. 

The Bottom Line: Will the US Ever Ban ChatGPT?

The Wu-Tang Clan famously decried, “cash rules everything around me.” For no one is this line truer than world governments and their officials. That’s why the question of whether or not to ban ChatGPT is such a tough one for legislators. Generative AI like ChatGPT has an unprecedented ability to generate money through boosts in productivity, GDP, and its many other applications. If the US decides to pump the brakes on ChatGPT, it won’t be putting a stop to the entirety of generative AI, it’ll simply be hindering its own ability to participate in the next revolution. 

Additionally, while the US has toyed with the idea of banning Tiktok, even that is highly questionable. Despite bi-partisan support, the US has never before banned such a widely used service, and many question whether they even have the legal ability to do so. Not to mention a large part of the argument is that Tiktok’s data collection tree has its roots in China. OpenAI’s roots are firmly planted in the United States. 

In short: Despite the pleading from Musk, Yang, and Wozniak, the US has given no implication that it will ban ChatGPT or similar platforms.

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