Democrat pushes Congress to get a jump on regulating ChatGPT

As generative AI developments rapidly change the world of technology, some experts and lawmakers are urging Congress to get a jump on regulating the powerful tools.

During a Thursday panel diving into this new innovation, Rep. Jacob Auchincloss (D-Mass.) told The Hill’s Rebecca Klar he’s hoping Congress will be proactive about controlling the dangers of AI, especially the recently released tool ChatGPT created by OpenAI.

“It can’t be social media 2.0. Facebook started small and scrappy got big very fast because of network effects,” Auchincloss said Thursday. “And policymakers still haven’t caught up to the ills that have flowed from Facebook and its cousin companies. We can’t do that with AI. We’ve got to get ahead of it.”

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ChatGPT is capable of mimicking human creativity and stitching together complex responses based on available information online. It could have far-reaching repercussions on many industries and jobs.

Microsoft also made headlines this week with the release of its Bing chatbot, which utilized similar AI capability, while Google is developing its own generative AI tool.

Auchincloss suggested that stakeholders in industries like healthcare, education, media, financial services and trade come together to decide on conventions for the use of generative AI.

“There’s no one-size-fits-all approach,” Auchincloss told Klar during The Hill’s “Future of Tech” discussion.

Margaret Mitchell, a researcher and chief ethics scientist at AI company Hugging Face, also said that disinformation and other dangers of the new technology should be proactively managed by Congress.

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“I would love for lawmakers to get on top of this,” Mitchell said during the event. “We’ve already very clearly seen that technology companies can’t really self regulate this and actually fight against even some of the basics of doing it.”

The results from generative AI can be persuasive and believable even if they’re wrong, Mitchell noted as one of the dangers of ChatGPT.

But it wasn’t all gloom in Thursday’s panel. Ethan Mollick, an associate professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business, said he has encouraged his students to take advantage of the technology and is already seeing increased productivity and creativity.

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“It’s actually been pretty amazing to see all of the impacts. There’s a lot of downsides too. So it also gives the students a chance to work through that and understand what the limits of these tools are and when they might be appropriate and when they may not be,” Mollick said.

As an educator, he compared the new technology to using a calculator: students still need to learn basic thinking skills but, in more advanced classes, the technology to add to their understanding.

“I mean, it really expands human capability,” Mollick said.

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