Massachusetts lawmakers eye regulation of ChatGPT, artificial intelligence technology

Massachusetts lawmakers eye regulation of ChatGPT, artificial intelligence technology

BOSTON – Artificial intelligence is becoming more of a reality. Software like ChatGPT can write student essays, draft a cover letter, even give advice with just a little information from a user. Now some Massachusetts lawmakers are interested in regulating it.

“We are in the beginning of what I think is going to be a transformational technology that is going to have a huge impact on many people’s lives,” said State Sen. Barry Finegold.

Finegold wants to get ahead of it, comparing it to Facebook’s unveiling nearly 20 years ago.

“We thought it was kind of cute, college kids used it, but we never had any idea how powerful a thing Facebook would become,” Finegold said.

Artificial intelligence, or AI, can be split into four categories: Reactive, limited memory, theory of mind, and self-aware.

Some of those aren’t even in the picture yet, but reactive is the most common. It’s where ChatGPT falls under. The software reacts to what you enter into the search bar.

Finegold is looking to involve the attorney general, learn how the algorithms are used and require watermarks on outputs so students can’t use it to cheat.

Advocates of the technology like Taylor Puckett say software like ChatGPT could drastically increase productivity.

“You are spending less time having to dig through Google search results and it is able to give you somewhat coherent answers that you might have to make a couple minor tweaks to, but for the most part, the information is there,” said Puckett.

Cyber security expert Peter Tran says he’s concerned about the risks with an unregulated space that is vulnerable to intent with the potential to spread misinformation.  “I am the flip side of Taylor,” Tran said.

Even with built-in ethics guidelines, those looking to do harm might be able to get closer, faster with AI.

“You as an attacker could say ‘I am looking for this kind of functionality’ and then you are going to have ChatGPT produce that for you very quickly so that you can have a very small modification to your intent and then you’re good to go,” Tran said.   

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