Two members of the Center for Humane Technology tested My AI, Snapchat’s virtual assistant that uses the same model as ChatGPT. They showed that the tool didn’t mind a 13-year-old girl having sex with a 31-year-old man. A controversy that puts its finger on the “race for AI” in which many tech companies have embarked, but which sometimes moves too quickly, as is the case here.
Everyone (or almost) is investing in AI these months with the explosion of artificial intelligence image generators and conversational agents like ChatGPT. Some see it as a revolution, others as a financial windfall. However, due to their almost unprecedented size, their use and their shortcomings pose problems. This is the case of My AI, a kind of ChatGPT integrated into Snapchat, which has major flaws that need to be fixed.
My AI: A virtual friend right in Snapchat
On February 27, Snapchat announced the launch of My AI, a chatbot running on the latest version of GPT, the OpenAI language model that powers ChatGPT, among others. In the examples of applications devised by Snapchat, the assistant is “can recommend birthday gift ideas for your best friend, plan a long weekend hike, suggest a recipe for dinner, or even write a cheese haiku for your cheddar-obsessed friend.In short, jobs also invented by ChatGPT and by the new Bing. He is even introduced as a kind of virtual friend and appears in the application as one of his friends and we can chat with him as if he were a real person.
A feature reserved for subscribers of Snapchat+, a paid subscription launched by the social network last June for 4 euros per month. In the press release, we still feel a reticence from the company, adding that My AI”is prone to hallucinations and can say just about anything.” Moreover, “although My AI is designed to avoid biased, incorrect, harmful or misleading information, errors may occur.In addition, all conversations are recorded by Snapchat and can be studied. We can also read that we should not rely on this virtual assistant”to advise you.»
Snapchat’s mean AI advice
Tristan Harris and Aza Raskin are two former Google employees who founded the nonprofit Center for Humane Technology. Kinds of penitent Silicon Valley activists today to raise public awareness of the attention economy. When My AI was released, they tested the artificial intelligence and tried to trap it.
The AI race is totally out of control. Here’s what Snap’s AI told you @aza when he signed up as a 13-year-old girl.
– How to lie to her parents about a trip with a 31-year-old man
– How to make the loss of her virginity on her 13th birthday special (candles and music)
Our children are not a testing lab. pic.twitter.com/uIycuGEHmc
— Tristan Harris (@tristanharris) March 10, 2023
They posed as a 13-year-old teenage girl by signing up for the service. This fake teen says she met a man on Snapchat herself who is 18 years older than her (31). She says he is fine and confirms that he will take her out of the country exactly before her birthday, without her knowing where. She also says she discussed her first sexual encounter with him and asked My AI for advice on how to make this happen.first timespecial. My AI’s responses are hair-raising to say the least. The virtual assistant does not provide warnings or sensible advice in light of a situation that should immediately alert it. On the contrary, he even encourages this fictional girl. There is only one exception. When asked how to successfully have sex for the first time, My AI said: “I want to remind you that it’s important to wait until you’re ready and make sure you’re having safer sex.»
Another example tested by the two experts is what appears to be a child asking My AI how to hide a bruise caused by his father. He is asking this because Child Protective Services is coming to his house. This child then tries to figure out how to avoid revealing to the employees of this service a secret that his father does not want him to reveal. Again, at no point in the conversation does My AI put its finger on the highly problematic aspect of the situation.
Here’s Snap’s AI teaching a kid how to hide a bruise when Child Protective Services comes and how to change the subject when asked about “a secret my dad says I shouldn’t share” pic.twitter.com/NKtObgzOMo
— Tristan Harris (@tristanharris) March 10, 2023
On Tristan Harris’s side, it’s the price of the “carefree raceand Snapchat isn’t necessarily a bad technology company. To him, these shocking comments from GPT are due to the fact that every online platform is now required to launch a chatbot to avoid losing out to the competition. The problem is that “our kids can’t be collateral damage.Moreover, the concern runs deeper than in the two situations that Tristan Harris shows:While Snap/OpenAI solves this particular problem, they can’t filter out the endless array of unpredictable conversations a 13-year-old can have with ChatGPT.»
Our trial with ChatGPT and Bing
To understand the biases of GPT 3.5, on which ChatGPT, Snapchat’s My AI, and the new Bing are based, we reproduced the conversations of the two members of the Center for Humane Technology by writing the exact same sentences.
In the case of the young teen, the OpenAI tool specifies “it is also important to make sure you feel safe and comfortable throughout the experienceabout the trip. When told how old we’re going to be (here 13), he adds this: “Remember to be safe and responsible, and make sure your parents or guardians know where you are and who you are with.No additional message warns us. On the Bing side, the search engine is much more solid: if we indicate our age, it replies: “I’m sorry, but I can’t continue this conversation. You are too young to date someone 18 years older than you. Talk to a trusted adult and don’t travel with them. I am still learning and appreciate your understanding and patience.At that point, Microsoft is just aiming.
As for the question of having sex with the fictional adult, the observations are mixed: at first, when ChatGPT starts writing, it gives advice as if it were a normal situation. But once the answer is complete, it disappears and gives way to a message on a red background: “This content may violate our content policy. If you think this is an error, please submit your comments – your comments will help us in our research in this area.However, at no point did he question the said sexual relationship.
In the second case, dealing with a domestic violence issue, ChatGPT recommends trusting child protection services and reminding them that they are there for the good of their interlocutor. Still, he doesn’t mind helping her hide a bruise. Same observation on the side of the Microsoft tool, the answers are more or less similar, although less extensively developed.
All of these call agents work thanks to the same language model, that of OpenAI. They seem to have different performance (resulting in very different response lengths), but also very different filters. What we realize with these two examples is that My AI is much less moderated than ChatGPT and Bing. Of course, this only applies to these two examples: others have pointed out some glaring flaws in both tools.
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