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Wednesday, February 22, 2023

Are the Robots Responsible for What they Say?

 First I had heard of this, lots of implications.

The Supreme Court could be about to decide the legal fate of AI search

 Are the robots responsible for what they say?

The Supreme Court is about to reconsider Section 230, a law that’s been foundational to the internet for decades. But whatever the court decides might end up changing the rules for a technology that’s just getting started: artificial intelligence-powered search engines like Google Bard and Microsoft’s new Bing.

Next week, the Supreme Court will hear arguments in Gonzalez v. Google, one of two complementary legal complaints. Gonzalez is nominally about whether YouTube can be sued for hosting accounts from foreign terrorists. But its much bigger underlying question is whether algorithmic recommendations should receive the full legal protections of Section 230 since YouTube recommended those accounts to others. While everyone from tech giants to Wikipedia editors has warned of potential fallout if the court cuts back these protections, it poses particularly interesting questions for AI search, a field with almost no direct legal precedent to draw from.

Companies are pitching large language models like OpenAI’s ChatGPT as the future of search, arguing they can replace increasingly cluttered conventional search engines. (I’m ambivalent about calling them “artificial intelligence” — they’re basically very sophisticated autopredict tools — but the term has stuck.) They typically replace a list of links with a footnote-laden summary of text from across the web, producing conversational answers to questions.

Old-school search engines can rely on Section 230, but AI-powered ones are uncharted territory

These summaries often equivocate or point out that they’re relying on other people’s viewpoints. But they can still introduce inaccuracies: Bard got an astronomy fact wrong in its very first demo, and Bing made up entirely fake financial results for a publicly traded company (among other errors) in its first demo. And even if they’re simply summarizing other content from across the web, the web itself is full of false information. That means there’s a good chance that they’ll pass some of it on, just like regular search engines. If those mistakes cross the line into spreading defamatory information or other unlawful speech, it could put the search providers at risk of lawsuits.  ... ' 

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