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Massachusetts congressman reads AI-generated speech on House floor

When U.S. Rep. Jake Auchincloss decided to deliver a speech on a bill that would create a U.S.-Israel artificial intelligence center, he opted to let the AI do the talking.

The brief two-paragragh speech read by the Massachusetts Democrat on the floor of the U.S. House on Wednesday was generated by the online AI chatbot ChatGPT. His staff said they believe it’s the first time an AI-written speech was read in Congress.

Auchincloss said he prompted the system in part to “write 100 words to deliver on the floor of the House of Representatives” about the legislation. Auchincloss said he had to refine the prompt several times to produce the text he ultimately read.

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The bill, which Auchincloss is refiling, would establish a joint U.S.-Israel AI Center in the United States to serve as a hub for AI research and development in the public, private and education sectors.

Auchincloss said part of the decision to read a ChatGPT-generated text was to help spur debate on AI and the challenges and opportunities created by it. He said he doesn’t want to see a repeat of the advent of social media, which started small and ballooned faster than Congress could react.

“I’m the youngest parent in the Democratic caucus, AI is going to be part of my life and it could be a general purpose technology for my children,” said Auchincloss, 34.

The release of ChatGPT and other AI programs available on the internet is already posing a challenge for teachers who must now grapple with the possibility of students handing in AI-generated essays.

Researchers also worry AI chatbots could help turbocharge efforts to spread misinformation and propaganda.

OpenAI, the nonprofit that created ChatGPT, has acknowledged on its website that ChatGPT “can occasionally produce incorrect answers” and that its responses will sometimes be misleading as a result of how it learns. It recommends users check whether responses are accurate or not.

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The text generated from Auchincloss’s prompt includes sentences like: “We must collaborate with international partners like the Israeli government to ensure that the United States maintains a leadership role in AI research and development and responsibly explores the many possibilities evolving technologies provide.”

“There were probably about a dozen of my colleagues on the floor. I bet none of them knew it was written by a computer,” he said.

Lawmakers and others shouldn’t be reflexively hostile to the new technology, but also shouldn’t wait too long before drafting policies or new laws to help regulate it, Auchincloss said.

In particular, he argued that the country needs a “public counterweight” to the big tech firms that would help guarantee that smaller developers and universities have access to the same cloud computing, cutting edge algorithms and raw data as larger companies.

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