Democrat urges Congress to push regulation of ChatGPT

As generative AI developments rapidly transform the world of technology, some pundits and lawmakers are urging Congress to push regulation of the powerful tools.

During a Thursday panel dedicated to this new innovation, Rep. Jacob Auchincloss (D-Mass.) told The Hill’s Rebecca Klar that he hoped Congress would proactively control the dangers of AI, particularly the recently released tool ChatGPT developed by OpenAI.

“It cannot be social media 2.0. Facebook started small and Scrappy grew big very quickly due to network effects,” Auchincloss said Thursday. “And policymakers still haven’t caught up with the evils wrought by Facebook and its cousin companies. We can’t do that with AI. We have to make progress there.”

ChatGPT is able to mimic human creativity and piece together complex responses based on information available online. It could have far-reaching implications for many industries and jobs.

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

Auchincloss suggested that stakeholders from industries such as healthcare, education, media, financial services and commerce come together to decide on conventions for the use of generative AI.

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

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

“I would love for the legislature to get a handle on this,” Mitchell said during the event. “We’ve already seen very clearly that tech companies can’t really regulate this themselves and are even fighting some of the fundamentals.”

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Generative AI results can be compelling and believable even when they’re wrong, Mitchell noted as one of ChatGPT’s dangers.

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

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“It was really quite amazing to see all the impact. There are also many disadvantages. So it also gives the students a chance to work through that and understand where the limitations of these tools are and when they might and might not be appropriate,” said Mollick.

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 needs to broaden their understanding.

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