Italy Bans OpenAI

The Six Five team discusses Italy’s ban on OpenAI.

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Daniel Newman: Okay, so this is more, again, this is a little bit more of a macro topic and I like these kinds of topics, Pat, but I think you and I can have a little bit of fun. We spend a lot of time talking about chip controls and China and we talk about the Netherlands, but we haven’t talked about too many other places where there’s been significant policy and diplomacy issues. But if you don’t remember or if you hadn’t heard, or if you lived under a rock or you don’t know what ChatGPT is, or you don’t know what generative AI is, last week, Italy became the first country to ban ChatGPT.

Why in the world would a country ban ChatGPT? Now we all know that you can do search and it can be wrong. You can go on Facebook and you can get a whole bunch of disinformation. You can, of course, listen to your Aunt Sally tell you about the political landscape of the world and then repeat her story. So that’s bad. So why in the world is ChatGPT bad? And I think the bottom line of it, well it really isn’t. But the problem when you have a tool like this, and I think there was some news that broke yesterday, by the way, about Samsung. They used ChatGPT for something and it turned out to be wrong, like a big company using it and applying it. And so the moral of this story here is that this stuff’s moving really fast.

This stuff’s moving really, really fast and a country, and there are many countries around the world that have already what I would call fledgling or sensitive, slow-moving risk, at risk economies where you suddenly have something that could take a huge percentage of the knowledge working population and replace it. So there’s a couple things I think is the data breach is kind of the why they did this. The fact is there’s a lot of risk. There’s where’s data coming from? There’s a lot of legal – but I also think there’s a big skilling issue in a country like Italy that probably has significant concerns when all of a sudden most of your middle management tier of workers have significant portions of their work that could be quickly replaced and displaced. So I think there’s a couple of things happening. One, we’re worried about how data’s being collected in order to train this stuff.

Two, they’re worried about how the application of tools like ChatGPT, and then these tools being built into more and more productivity and other kinds of workloads, every day collaboration workloads could impact their workforces. And now they’re effectively saying, you know what? We’re just not going to allow it at all. And that brings questions to not just obviously ChatGPT, cause that’s just one and OpenAI is just one, but you’ve got Bard and you’ve got Firefly. I actually think I put out a think Pat, in just a month there’s been like 60 new generative AI tools that have been developed and gone into market. So I’ll give you a quick thesis and then I’m going to kick this back to you to get your opinion. I think we are at an inflection point right now where the genie is out of the bottle and it’s going to be impossible to put back in. But now that the genie’s come out of the bottle, there are large swaths of the population that are trying to figure out what does this really mean for us?

We saw meaningful transformation with technology. Things like analytics, automation, cloud computing, mobile enter markets over periods of 5, 7, 10 years, social media, where they became truly disruptive. This is something that was because of the proliferation of those other technologies that became disruptive in a matter of weeks to months. With new tools, technologies and capabilities being rolled out on almost a daily basis, it’s going to change the way we work. It’s going to change the way information is disseminated. It’s going to change root of trust, it’s going to change legal basis and it’s also going to change search. I think the whole world is absolutely uncertain of what this means and what this is going to do.

Having said that, I think Italy is completely over their skis. I think there’s no way they’re going to be able to control this. I think it’s a dream. It’s probably as dumb as Elon Musk’s comment about putting a pause on this thing so what, that China could catch up? But having said that, I don’t think this is the last country that’ll try to ban it. It’s just really interesting when you see modern developed countries with democratic policies that aren’t North Korea or China telling people that they can’t use modern technology.

Patrick Moorhead: I got to tell you, I was trying to figure out if this was related to what Musk was talking about in his letter about AI. I think this is more straightforward, which is this didn’t abide by the consumer privacy rules that are part of GDPR. And –

Daniel Newman: That’s what they’re saying. Sure.

Patrick Moorhead: Yeah. And so for instance, I don’t remember getting any prompts, well actually I’m not in a GDPR country right now, so I wouldn’t get these prompts, but I know there are special prompts on what you allow it to use, the information about you and disclose what you’re doing with that information. So I almost think it’s black – it’s almost as black and white as that, but I think that could be just a cover for the, ‘let’s slow this thing down’ conversation.

Germany has made a statement that it could very easily shut it down. I mean, of course it could, it just goes and blocks the IP address. You can’t – good luck stopping that through a VPN. But anyways, anything that I think in society that we’ve tried to stop or slow down, consumers have figured out how to get around it. And in fact, something that’s banned, it makes it even more enticing just using psychology and logic around that. Now, I don’t know. Every country is entitled to do what they want to do. I’m not going to necessarily pass judgment, but I just think this is going to blow up completely in their face. And I don’t know how hard it would be for OpenAI to be GDPR compliant, but notice nobody is having this reaction with Bing or Bard, at this point. So I don’t know what the difference is, but it’s apparent that OpenAI is doing something different.

Daniel Newman: Well, those are just the models that underpin those things. I don’t know, it’s interesting cause like I said, I think it’s more of a…is it a cut the snakes head off thing? Or is it truly a, why go after the big multi-trillion dollar company when you can go after the smaller developer of these large language models that are being implemented? Anyway, something to think about. I don’t know.

Patrick Moorhead: For sure. No, it’s an important conversation and I mean, I remember when they were saying the same thing about Google search and people are talking about self-driving cars. The only difference between automobiles and search is there’s a lot more regulators in transportation than there are in electronics or data or information.

Daniel Newman: Well, there should be more regulators, there just aren’t. Yeah, I mean, I guess with the vehicles it’s a little more binary. People say you either…

Patrick Moorhead: I don’t know, man. Did you just say hope there’s more regulators?

Daniel Newman: Sorry. I hope that there will need to be some regulation and guidelines around AI for sure, and it needs to be consistent. You can’t really do that at a regional level, which is crazy because can you imagine the G20 trying to come together and put together frameworks that we’ll be followed and abided to? Oh my God, no chance. There’s absolutely no chance of that happening. Now, the highway stuff, it’s like, yeah, well if cars crash and kill people, we’re going to stop letting them do that. It’s a little – but like I said, I mean, misinformation kills people too. It’s just harder to make that attribution.

Author Information

Daniel is the CEO of The Futurum Group. Living his life at the intersection of people and technology, Daniel works with the world’s largest technology brands exploring Digital Transformation and how it is influencing the enterprise.

From the leading edge of AI to global technology policy, Daniel makes the connections between business, people and tech that are required for companies to benefit most from their technology investments. Daniel is a top 5 globally ranked industry analyst and his ideas are regularly cited or shared in television appearances by CNBC, Bloomberg, Wall Street Journal and hundreds of other sites around the world.

A 7x Best-Selling Author including his most recent book “Human/Machine.” Daniel is also a Forbes and MarketWatch (Dow Jones) contributor.

An MBA and Former Graduate Adjunct Faculty, Daniel is an Austin Texas transplant after 40 years in Chicago. His speaking takes him around the world each year as he shares his vision of the role technology will play in our future.


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