A suspect, known only as “Hong,” was recently apprehended in the Gansu district of China for allegedly employing ChatGPT to fabricate news articles. As reported by the South China Morning Post, Hong was seized after law enforcement agents discovered a baseless story regarding a train accident on April 18. Hong was charged with “using artificial intelligence technology to concoct false and untrue information.”
Cybersecurity experts unveiled that at least 20 accounts had simultaneously published the counterfeit news piece on a widely-read blogging site operated by Chinese tech titan, Baidu. Notably, China’s social media laws are among the strictest globally. Police accused Hong of violating an ordinance for “picking quarrels and provoking trouble,” which explicitly encompasses the spread of falsified news and rumors on the internet.
Under the conventional statute, Hong could face up to five years in prison if convicted. However, if the courts regard the transgression as particularly serious, Hong could receive a sentence of up to ten years under the law’s extended provisions addressing especially grave offenses.
Despite being prohibited in China, people can still access ChatGPT via virtual private networks (VPNs). The situation brings into question whether China’s homegrown artificial intelligence (AI) services, such as Alibaba’s “Tongyi Qianwen,” a generative AI model fluent in both English and Mandarin, will possess equivalent capabilities as ChatGPT. In mid-April, Cointelegraph reported about the uncertainty surrounding Tongyi Qianwen’s possible creative abilities.
China’s lack of powerful generative AI models might have a negative impact on the country’s technology landscape, especially in areas like fintech and cryptocurrency trading. In these sectors, the use of ChatGPT and products based on OpenAI‘s GPT API have significantly surged in popularity.
This situation highlights the challenges and drawbacks that governments might face when trying to regulate and control AI-generated content. As the technology advances, the ability to create both valuable and misleading information will increase, leading to potential negative consequences for the general public.
On the other hand, the demand and adoption of AI-driven tools and platforms remain apparent, especially in the fintech and cryptocurrency sectors. Chinese authorities will have to find a balance between fostering innovation and maintaining strict regulations to prevent the spread of false information in the country. AI’s role in human life is continually expanding, making it essential for individuals, companies, and national authorities to navigate the complex world responsibly and ethically.