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OpenAI bans developer Dean Phillips bot, political restriction

OpenAI bans developer of bot imitating Democratic presidential candidate. Company's first known restriction on using its AI tools by a political campaign.

OpenAI, the creator of ChatGPT, has banned the developer of a bot that imitated Democratic presidential candidate Rep. Dean Phillips (Minn), marking the company's first known restriction on using its artificial intelligence (AI) tools by a political campaign or committee.

An OpenAI spokesperson confirmed the ban to The Hill, stating that "Anyone who builds with our tools must follow our usage policies." The spokesperson explained that a developer account was removed for knowingly violating API usage policies, which prohibit political campaigning or impersonating an individual without consent.

The bot, known as Dean.Bot, was created by Silicon Valley entrepreneurs Matt Krisiloff and Jed Somers, who launched We Deserve Better, a super political action committee (PAC) backing Phillips. The PAC contracted AI start-up Delphi to build the bot using ChatGPT conversational software, which led to the ban from OpenAI.

The move from OpenAI came after The Washington Post reported the launch of Dean.Bot by the super PAC. OpenAI rules explicitly prohibit using its technology for political campaigns, prompting the suspension of the account and the removal of Dean.Bot.

The bot was marketed as a "fun education tool" that allowed voters to ask questions online. However, it came with a disclaimer that it may not always provide accurate information. While users can still access the website, the chat bot has been removed, with a message stating "Experiencing technical difficulties" and "Apologies, DeanBot is away campaigning right now!"

OpenAI's actions are part of its approach to the 2024 elections, aiming to prevent abuse, provide transparency on AI-generated content, and improve access to accurate voting information. The company will ban the use of its technology to create chatbots that mimic real candidates or governments and will digitally watermark AI images created with its DALL-E image generator.

The controversy over the Dean.Bot comes amid concerns over how AI technology could impact elections. AI has the ability to generate text, images, audio, and deepfake videos, raising concerns about misinformation and eroding voter confidence in the election system.

Phillips, who launched a long-shot bid for the Democratic presidential nomination, has struggled to gain momentum against President Biden. He will appear on New Hampshire's primary ballot on Tuesday, while Biden will not be on the ballot, though a write-in campaign is being pushed among his supporters.

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