Mass. State Legislators Use ChatGPT To Write Bills About Regulating AI Tech


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BOSTON (WBZ NewsRadio) — Two Massachusetts state legislators, Senator Barry R. Finegold and Representative Josh S. Cutler, used the artificial intelligence chatbot ChatGPT to help draft two proposals to regulate its usage, the Boston Globe reported Tuesday.

Finegold's bill is titled "An Act drafted with the help of ChatGPT to regulate generative artificial intelligence models like ChatGPT." The bill would put a series of protections in place, including requiring AI companies to register and disclose information about their algorithms with the attorney general's office, conduct risk assessments on their technology, and put safeguards in place to protect against plagiarism such as a distinct watermark.

"The purpose of this chapter is to regulate generative artificial intelligence models, such as ChatGPT, in order to protect the public’s safety, privacy and intellectual property rights," the bill reads.

Cutler's legislation would regulate the use of AI technology in providing any mental health services in the Commonwealth. This includes requiring advanced approval from a professional licensing board, built-in safeguards, a plan for human monitoring, informed patient consent, and opt-out options.

ChatGPT, which can mimic human speech and be used to engage in conversation, answer questions, write essays, simulate chatrooms, and a wide variety of other functions, was publicly released in November 2022 by its creator, California-based research laboratory OpenAI. Its widespread popularity prompted Microsoft Corp. to invest as much as $10 billion into OpenAI, deepening the relationship between the two companies.

This is the first time the program has been used to help write a piece of legislation. Finegold spoke with WBZ NewsRadio Wednesday about the process of instructing ChatGPT to help write his bill.

"We had to basically talk about some of the things we wanted to do, dealing with the attorney general's office, with risk assessments, stuff with plagiarism," Finegold said. "So those were some of the things that we had to put in to kind of get to where we need to, but I would say that it got us 70 percent of the way there. We make the analogy to autonomous vehicles, where it’s great until it snows, and this is really great up until a certain point."

"The technology is incredible, and the fact that Microsoft is going to be investing $10 billion, I think that shows that people really believe this is going to be a powerful force in the future," continued Finegold.

Despite his support of artificial intelligence programs like ChatGPT, Finegold acknowledged the concerns of such a powerful tool being used in a negative way, such as people spreading disinformation on the internet or students lying about writing a term paper that they actually did not.

"I think the way this can be abused is when there is not information out there that says where this came from and who is using it," Finegold said. "I think what we get concerned about is that all of a sudden people are saying this is their work, and it's really not their work, but also misinforming people that this is from a trusted source and it's not, just from ChatGPT. So I think we have to be careful about what this does. I also think we are concerned about if this going to replace the importance of subjective thinking. Is this going to be replace people in their jobs? And some of this stuff is inevitable, but what I think is important is understanding how this is going to be used and the risks involved."

Posting a statement on his LinkedIn page about his own experience using ChatGPT, Cutler wrote, "I entered a very brief query and it generated this legislation which has now been filed. If you are not familiar with this software it is rather amazing, and somewhat terrifying at the same time. There are many different applications and policy considerations with the rise of AI, and many could be beneficial to society. But with it also comes the need for protections and guardrails."

Finegold and Cutler are not the only state legislators to use ChatGPT for work. On Wednesday, Massachusetts Representative Jake Auchincloss revealed he used ChatGPT to write a speech about a piece of legislation he plans to introduce that would establish an artificial intelligence research center between the U.S. and Israel. He first introduced the bipartisan bill last Congress.

WBZ's Nichole Davis (@NicholeDWBZ) reports.

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