- An Australian mayor may sue OpenAI after ChatGPT said he’d been jailed for a bribery scandal.
- However, Brian Hood had not been charged and was instead a whistleblower.
- Hood told Australia’s ABC News he was “horrified” that ChatGPT had been saying he’d been convicted.
An Australian mayor says he’s preparing to potentially sue OpenAI. The defamation lawsuit, if filed, would likely be the first against the Microsoft-backed tech company over its ChatGPT generative AI platform, which writes text based on user prompts.
ChatGPT incorrectly described Brian Hood, the mayor of Hepburn Shire Council in the Australian state of Victoria, as a guilty party in a bribery scandal, Australia’s ABC News reported.
The scandal centered on how Note Printing Australia, a subsidiary of the Reserve Bank of Australia, had paid bribes to foreign officials to win contracts to print currencies between 1999 and 2004.
While Hood had worked at Note Printing Australia, he was actually a whistleblower, and a judge at the Supreme Court of Victoria said that he had played a “very important role” in exposing the bribery.
Hood said that after someone alerted him to the results on ChatGPT, he tried it out himself.
“It told me that I’d been charged with very serious criminal offenses, that I’d been convicted of them, and that I’d spent 30 months in jail,” he told ABC News.
Hood said he’d sent OpenAI a concerns notice on March 21, giving the company 28 days to respond.
James Naughton, a partner at Gordon Law, which is representing Hood, told Reuters that if he filed a lawsuit against ChatGPT, it would accuse the platform of creating a false sense of accuracy by not including references to the sources it used.
Hood told ABC News it was all the more “disturbing” because ChatGPT got some details correct. However, the information about his own involvement was “completely wrong,” he said. “I was horrified – I was stunned at first that it was so incorrect.”
“I think this is a pretty stark wake-up call,” Hood continued. “The system is portrayed as being credible and informative, authoritative, and it’s obviously not.”
OpenAI did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.
When asked by Insider on Friday, ChatGPT told Insider that Hood “was not one of the individuals who were charged with foreign bribery offenses, and there is no public information indicating that he was directly implicated in the scandal.”
ChatGPT also described Hood as CEO of Note Printing Australia, when he was company secretary, per the Herald Sun.
A disclaimer on ChatGPT’s website says that it “may produce inaccurate information about people, places, or facts.” This small notice at the bottom of the chatbot’s webpage is “nowhere near adequate,” Hood told ABC News.
“It’s one thing to get something a little bit wrong, it’s entirely something else to be accusing someone of being a criminal and having served jail time when the truth was the exact opposite,” he said.
Generative AI such as ChatGPT is known to occasionally “hallucinate,” or make up facts and repeatedly state them as true. The chatbot has also made up sexual harassment accusations against lawyer Jonathan Turley, which he said were false and “incredibly harmful,” The Washington Post reported.
Speaking about ChatGPT’s comments about Hood, James Naughton, a partner at Hood’s law firm Gordon Legal, said that as an elected official, Hood’s “reputation is central to his role. It makes a difference to him if people in his community are accessing this material.”