ChatGPT – a catalyst for what kind of future?
The Hannah Arendt Center will collaborate with the Vienna Digital Humanism Initiative on ChatGPT to convene the first Digital Humanism Leadership Summit on A.I. & Democratic Sustainability in Vienna (3-5 July 2023). The Vienna Digital Humanism Initiative released a “Statement of the Digital Humanism Initiative on ChatGPT.” You can read it here:
The centralised control of this experiment and the related decisions on AI research directions represent a threat to the sustainability of liberal democracy which is clear, imminent and vividly highlighted by the glamour and publicity currently surrounding ChatGPT.
The fact that this threat is raising flags of concern among political decision makers (note the recent turmoil in the European Parliament debating the AI Act triggered by ChatGPT), academic networks, initiatives like Digital Humanism, and other like-minded ones, gives hope and motivation to take action during this fortuitous but probably limited window of time.
The need for regulation and our concern that unregulated AI will, on the whole, be bad AI, have not gone unnoticed. In the European Union, the EU AI Act is under intense discussion with the aim to be approved in the coming months. In the USA there have been several antitrust suits for monopolistic behaviour by the Federal Trade Commission and the Department of Justice, with the latest one filed against Google on January 25, 2023. Related to this, in the transatlantic Trade and Technology Council, the USA and EU pursue a Joint Roadmap for Trustworthy AI and Risk Management. The implementation of AI policy must be continuously monitored and updated in a dynamic way.
What needs to be done, in addition to pressing for good regulation and its implementation, is to keep the general public and policymakers informed. They must be made aware of what is at stake regarding the future of democratic institutions and processes and the risk that citizens become pawns in a closed competitive race about profit and market shares. The public sphere for open deliberations and participation is at risk of being taken over and flooded by content that is deliberately designed for misinformation, utter nonsense or undermining the sense of democratic, collective belonging.