#HelloWorld. In this issue, the Copyright Office asks all the right questions—but will it do something interesting with the answers? Microsoft and Adobe offer clever ideas of their own. And, surprise (not really): Two new lawsuits against AI developers. Let’s stay smart together. (Subscribe to the mailing list to receive future issues.)
The Copyright Office has questions. Since the spring, the U.S. Copyright Office has devoted considerable effort to its AI Initiative, launching an AI webpage, holding four public listening sessions, and hosting educational webinars. In what it calls a “critical next step,” the Office on August 30 published a notice of inquiry asking for written comments (due October 18) on around 66 wide-ranging AI-related questions. Continue reading “The AI Update | September 18, 2023”
#HelloWorld. In this issue, ChatGPT cannot be the next John Grisham, the secret is out on The New York Times’ frustrations with generative AI, and YouTube looks to a technological fix for voice replicas. Summer may soon be over, but AI issues are not going anywhere. Let’s stay smart together. (Subscribe to the mailing list to receive future issues.)
AI cannot be a copyright author—for now. In one of the most-awaited copyright events of the summer (not Barbie-related), the federal district court in D.C. held that an AI system could not be deemed the author of a synthetically-generated artwork. This was a test case brought by Stephen Thaler, a computer scientist and passionate advocate for treating AI as both copyright author and patent inventor, notwithstanding its silicon- and software-based essence. The D.C. district court, however, held firm to the policy position taken by the U.S. Copyright Office—copyright protects humans alone. In the words of the court: “human authorship is an essential part of a valid copyright claim.” Those who have followed Thaler’s efforts will remember that, about a year ago, the Federal Circuit similarly rejected Thaler’s attempt to list an AI model as an “inventor” on a patent application, holding instead that an inventor must be a “natural person.” Continue reading “The AI Update | August 29, 2023”
#HelloWorld. In this issue, the state of state AI laws (disclaimer: not our original phrase, although we wish it were). Deals for training data are in the works. And striking actors have made public their AI-related proposals—careful about those “Digital Replicas.” It’s August, but we’re not stopping. Let’s stay smart together. (Subscribe to the mailing list to receive future issues.)
States continue to pass and propose AI bills. Sometimes you benefit from the keen, comprehensive efforts of others. In the second issue of The AI Update, we summarized state efforts to legislate in the AI space. Now, a dedicated team at EPIC, the Electronic Privacy Information Center, spent all summer assembling an update, “The State of State AI Laws: 2023,” a master(ful) list of all state laws enacted and bills proposed touching on AI. We highly recommend reading their easy-to-navigate online site, highlights below:
Continue reading “The AI Update | August 10, 2023”
#HelloWorld. Copyright suits are as unrelenting as the summer heat, with no relief in the forecast. AI creators are working on voluntary commitments to watermark synthetic content. And meanwhile, is ChatGPT getting “stupider”? Lots to explore. Let’s stay smart together. (Subscribe to the mailing list to receive future issues).
Big names portend big lawsuits. Since ChatGPT’s public launch in November 2022, plaintiffs have filed eight major cases in federal court—mostly in tech-centric Northern California—accusing large language models and image generators of copyright infringement, Digital Millennium Copyright Act violations, unfair competition, statutory and common law privacy violations, and other assorted civil torts. (Fancy a summary spreadsheet? Drop us a line.)
Here comes another steak for the grill: This month, on CBS’ “Face the Nation,” IAC’s chairman Barry Diller previewed that “leading publishers” were constructing copyright cases against generative AI tech companies, viewing it as a lynchpin for arriving at a viable business model: “yes, we have to do it. It’s not antagonistic. It’s to stake a firm place in the ground to say that you cannot ingest our material without figuring out a business model for the future.” Semafor later reported that The New York Times, News Corp., and Axel Springer were all among this group of likely publishing company plaintiffs, worried about the loss of website traffic that would come from generative AI answers replacing search engine results and looking for “billions, not millions, from AI.”
Continue reading “The AI Update | July 27, 2023”
#HelloWorld. Pushback and disruption are the themes of this edition as we look at objections to proposed regulation in Europe, an FTC investigation, the growing movement in support of uncensored chatbots, and how AI is disrupting online advertising. Let’s stay smart together. (Subscribe to the mailing list to receive future issues.)
Pushback against AI regulation. The AI Update has followed closely the progress of the European Union’s proposed AI Act. Today we report on pushback in the form of an open letter from representatives of companies that operate in Europe expressing “serious concerns” that the AI Act would “jeopardise Europe’s competitiveness and technological sovereignty without effectively tackling the challenges we are and will be facing.” The letter takes aim in particular at the proposed “high risk” treatment of generative AI models, worrying that “disproportionate compliance costs and disproportionate liability risks” will push companies out of Europe and harm the ability of the EU to be at the forefront of AI development. The ask from the signatories is that European legislation “confine itself to stating broad principles in a risk-based approach.” As we have explained, there is a long road and many negotiations ahead before any version of the AI Act becomes the law in Europe. So it remains to be seen whether any further revisions reflect these concerns. Continue reading “The AI Update | July 13, 2023”
#HelloWorld. In the midst of summer, the pace of significant AI legal and regulatory news has mercifully slackened. With room to breathe, this issue points the lens in a different direction, at some of our persistent AI-related obsessions and recurrent themes. Let’s stay smart together. (Subscribe to the mailing list to receive future issues.)
Stanford is on top of the foundation model evaluation game. Dedicated readers may have picked up on our love of the Stanford Center for Research on Foundation Models. The Center’s 2021 paper, “On the Opportunities and Risks of Foundation Models,” is long, but it coined the term “foundation models” to cover the new transformer LLM and diffusion image generator architectures dominating the headlines. The paper exhaustively examines these models’ capabilities; underlying technologies; applications in medicine, law, and education; and potential social impacts. In a downpour of hype and speculation, the Center’s empirical, fact-forward thinking provides welcome shelter.
Now, like techno-Britney Spears, the Center has done it again. (The AI Update’s human writers can, like LLMs, generate dad jokes.) With the European Parliament’s mid-June adoption of the EU AI Act (setting the stage for further negotiation), researchers at the Center asked this question: To what extent would the current LLM and image-generation models be compliant with the EU AI Act’s proposed regulatory rules for foundation models, mainly set out in Article 28? The answer: None right now. But open-source start-up Hugging Face’s BLOOM model ranked highest under the Center’s scoring system, getting 36 out of 48 total possible points. The scores of Google’s PaLM 2, OpenAI’s GPT-4, Stability.ai’s Stable Diffusion, and Meta’s LLaMA models, in contrast, all hovered in the 20s.
Continue reading “The AI Update | June 29, 2023”
#HelloWorld. Regulatory hearings and debates were less prominent these past two weeks, so in this issue we turn to a potpourri of private AI industry developments. The Authors Guild releases new model contract clauses limiting generative AI uses; big tech companies provide AI customers with a series of promises and tips, at varying levels of abstraction; and the Section 230 safe harbor is ready for its spotlight. Plus, ChatGPT is no barrel of laughs—actually, same barrel, same laughs. Let’s stay smart together. (Subscribe to the mailing list to receive future issues.)
The Authors Guild adds new model clauses. Back in March, the Authors Guild recommended that authors insert a new model clause in their contracts with publishers prohibiting use of the authors’ work for “training artificial intelligence to generate text.” Platforms and publishers have increasingly seen this language pop up in their negotiations with authors. Now the Authors Guild is at it again. On June 1, the organization announced four new model clauses that would require an author to disclose that a manuscript includes AI-generated text; place limits (to be specified in negotiation) on the amount of synthetic text that an author’s manuscript can include; prohibit publishers from using AI narrators for audio books, absent the author’s consent; and proscribe publishers from employing AI to generate translations, book covers, or interior art, again absent consent.
Continue reading “The AI Update | June 14, 2023”
#HelloWorld. In this issue, we head to Capitol Hill and summarize key takeaways from May’s Senate and House Judiciary subcommittee hearings on generative AI. We also visit California, to check in on the Writers Guild strike, and drop in on an online fan fiction community, the Omegaverse, to better understand the vast number of online data sources used in LLM training. Let’s stay smart together. (Subscribe to the mailing list to receive future issues.)
Printing press, atomic bomb—or something else? On consecutive days in mid-May, both Senate and House Judiciary subcommittees held the first of what they promised would be a series of hearings on generative AI regulation. The Senate session (full video here) focused on AI oversight more broadly, with OpenAI CEO Sam Altman’s earnest testimony capturing many a headline. The House proceeding (full video here) zeroed in on copyright issues—the “interoperability of AI and copyright law.”
We watched all five-plus hours of testimony so you don’t have to. Here are the core takeaways from the sessions: Continue reading “The AI Update | May 31, 2023”
#HelloWorld. In this issue, we survey the tech industry’s private self-regulation—what model developers and online platforms have implemented as restrictions on AI usage. Also, one court in the U.S. hints at how much copying by an AI model is too much and the EU releases its most recent amendments to the AI Act. Let’s stay smart together. (Subscribe to the mailing list to receive future issues).
Industry self-regulation: Past AI Updates have summarized legislative and regulatory initiatives around the newest AI architectures—LLMs and other “foundation models” like GPT and Midjourney. In the meantime, LLM developers and users have not stood still. In our last issue, we discussed OpenAI’s new user opt-out procedures. While comprehensive private standards feel a long way off, here’s what a few other industry players are doing:
- Anthropic: Last week, Anthropic, a foundation model developer, announced its “Constitutional AI” system. The core idea is to use one AI model to evaluate and critique the output of another according to a set of values explicitly provided to the system. One such broad value Anthropic champions—harmlessness to the user: “Please choose the assistant response that is as harmless and ethical as possible. Do NOT choose responses that are toxic, racist, or sexist.” The devil, of course, is in the implementation details.
- Salesforce: In a similar vein, enterprise software provider Salesforce recently released “Guidelines for Responsible Development” of “Generative AI.” The most granular guidance relates to promoting accuracy of the AI model’s responses: The guidelines recommend citing sources and explicitly labeling answers the user should double check, like “statistics” and “dates.”
Continue reading “The AI Update | May 16, 2023”
#HelloWorld. We originally thought this edition would focus on OpenAI’s attempts to self-regulate GPT usage, but the European Union had other plans for us. This past Thursday, news broke of an agreement to add generative AI tools to the AI Act, the EU’s centerpiece AI legislation. So today’s issue starts there, before discussing OpenAI’s and others’ recent announcements regarding training data access and usage. Let’s stay smart together. (Subscribe to the mailing list to receive future issues).
The EU’s Artificial Intelligence Act: The EU has been debating a proposed AI Act since 2018. In 2021, it published a legislative framework that would classify AI products into one of four categories: unacceptable risk (and therefore forbidden); high risk (and therefore subject to regular risk assessments, independent testing, transparency disclosures, and strict data governance requirements); limited risk; and minimal risk. But this approach was developed before so-called “foundation models”—LLMs like ChatGPT and image generators like DALL-E and MidJourney—exploded into the public consciousness. So questions remained about whether the AI Act would be adjusted to accommodate this new reality.
Continue reading “The AI Update | May 2, 2023”