The tech world and Italy have been embroiled in a heated debate following Italy’s decision to ban ChatGPT, a conversational artificial intelligence (AI) system from OpenAI.
The country’s deputy prime minister also expressed his disapproval of the ban, calling it overblown, according to a report by Cointelegraph published earlier today.
On March 31, after Italy’s national data agency raised concerns over potential privacy breaches and the inability to confirm user ages, Microsoft-supported OpenAI pulled ChatGPT from the Italian market. This marked the first time a Western nation had taken action against the AI chatbot.
On April 2, Matteo Salvini, Italy’s Italian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Infrastructure and Transport, shared his opinion on Instagram, saying in a translated post that the Privacy Watchdog’s decision to force #ChatGPT to block access from Italy was excessive. Salvini argued that the regulator’s actions were hypocritical given the many AI-based services available, such as Bing’s chat. He called for common sense, stating that privacy concerns affect almost every online service.
Salvini also warned that the ChatGPT ban might negatively impact Italy’s business sector and innovation, expressing hope for a swift resolution that would restore access to the chatbot in Italy. He acknowledged the need for oversight and regulation through international collaboration but argued against outright prohibition.
According to the Cointelegraph report, Ron Moscona, a partner at international law firm Dorsey & Whitney and an expert in technology and data privacy, also voiced his opposition to the ban, calling it surprising and unusual for a service to be entirely banned due to a data breach.
In response to the Italian authorities’ request, OpenAI has reportedly blocked ChatGPT access for users in Italy but maintained that it complies with European privacy regulations and is open to cooperating with Italy’s privacy regulatory agency. OpenAI said that it takes steps to minimize personal data usage when training AI systems like ChatGPT, focusing on helping the AI learn about the world rather than gathering information on specific individuals.
Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong has publicly disagreed with an open letter published by the Future of Life Institute on March 29, titled “Pause Giant AI Experiments: An Open Letter.” The letter calls for a temporary halt to developing powerful AI systems like GPT-4, sparking a debate within the tech community.
The open letter states, “Powerful AI systems should be developed only once we are confident that their effects will be positive and their risks will be manageable.” The authors call for a public and verifiable pause of at least six months on training AI systems more powerful than GPT-4. They also urge AI labs to develop shared safety protocols to ensure AI systems’ safe design and development.
Among the notable signatories of the open letter are Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX, Tesla, and Twitter; Steve Wozniak, Co-founder of Apple; Bill Gates, Co-founder of Microsoft; and Gary Marcus, AI researcher and Professor Emeritus at New York University.
On March 31, Coinbase Co-Founder and CEO Brian Armstrong took to Twitter to express his disagreement with the letter, stating, “Count me among the people who think this is a bad idea.” He argued that there are no “experts” to adjudicate the issue and that many disparate actors will never agree. Armstrong further stated, “Committees and bureaucracy won’t solve anything.”
Armstrong went on to advocate for continued progress in technology development despite potential dangers. He asserted, “As with many technologies, there are dangers, but we should keep marching forward with progress because the good outweighs the bad. The marketplace of ideas leads to better outcomes than central planning.” He concluded by warning against letting fear stop progress and the potential for central authorities to control development.
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