Police in China have arrested a man for publishing a fake train accident story written using ChatGPT. It marks the first time that anyone has been arrested for using the AI chatbot, not only in China where ChatGPT is illegal but across the world.
Identified only by his surname Hong, the man was arrested in the northern province of Gansu, according to a police report posted on WeChat. He stands accused of using ChatGPT to create fake news stories about a train crash that killed many people.
Hong allegedly violated Chinese Internet guidelines when he used artificial intelligence to post the fake articles on Baidu-owned blog-like platform Baijiahao.
China maintains chokehold on AI
China has a long history of censoring the Internet, controlling the narrative which citizens see. Its often sweeping censorship rules have hounded global tech giants such as Google and Facebook out of the vast Asian country.
Authorities have since banned ChatGPT, but it continues to flourish underground. In April, regulators released draft rules that compel generative AI – the software systems like the one behind ChatGPT – to follow the Chinese Communist Party’s strict censorship rules.
According to the guidelines published by the powerful Cyberspace Administration of China, any content produced by AI systems should “reflect the core values of socialism, and must not contain subversion of state power.”
In Hong’s case, police charged him with “picking quarrels and provoking trouble,” Bloomberg reported. This specific charge comes from a law passed in January, which requires citizens to label photos and text generated using AI.
First ChatGPT arrest in China over fake train crash.
These AI tools will lead to more fake news in this world that's already suffering from fake news that's spreads faster than truth. pic.twitter.com/J0BOBwdM4s
— Arvind Datta (@datta_arvind) May 9, 2023
The crime carries a jail term of up to five years, reportedly the same minimum sentence that “the U.S. gives for cybercrime with the intent to further terrorism.” Hong’s case appears to be one of the first tests of the use of new Chinese legislation involving AI bots like ChatGPT.
Global AI regulation
Chinese tech giants have been racing to play catch-up since U.S. startup OpenAI launched its popular free-to-use bot ChatGPT in November, with Alibaba launching Tongyi Qianwen and Baidu unveiling Ernie Bot. Facial recognition software maker SenseTime also released its own AI product.
Around the world, governments are grappling with how to regulate the development of a technology that has the potential to transform the way humans live and do business in both good and bad ways.
In March, Italy banned ChatGPT, citing concerns about the technology’s potential to generate fake news and other harmful content. Canada launched a probe into ChatGPT’s privacy-related practices and in the U.S., lawmakers are debating proposals on regulating the industry.
As MetaNews previously reported, AI chatbots are entering a period of regulatory pain in Europe, with the EU tightening rules on data protection and privacy over fears that ChatGPT could violate its privacy rulebook, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).