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    ChatGPT is one year old. Here’s how it changed the world. / ArsTechnica · Thursday, 30 November - 17:01 · 1 minute

A toy tin robot blowing out a birthday candle.

Enlarge / An artist's interpretation of what ChatGPT might look like if embodied in the form of a robot toy blowing out a birthday candle. (credit: Aurich Lawson | Getty Images)

One year ago today, on November 30, 2022, OpenAI released ChatGPT . It's uncommon for a single tech product to create as much global impact as ChatGPT in just one year.

Imagine a computer that can talk to you. Nothing new, right? Those have been around since the 1960s . But ChatGPT, the application that first bought large language models (LLMs) to a wide audience, felt different. It could compose poetry, seemingly understand the context of your questions and your conversation, and help you solve problems. Within a few months, it became the fastest-growing consumer application of all time. And it created a frenzy.

During these 365 days, ChatGPT has broadened the public perception of AI, captured imaginations, attracted critics , and stoked existential angst. It emboldened and reoriented Microsoft, made Google dance , spurred fears of AGI taking over the world, captivated world leaders , prompted attempts at government regulation , helped add words to dictionaries , inspired conferences and copycats , led to a crisis for educators, hyper-charged automated defamation , embarrassed lawyers by hallucinating, prompted lawsuits over training data, and much more.

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    Microsoft offers legal protection for AI copyright infringement challenges / ArsTechnica · Friday, 8 September - 22:40

A man in an armor helmet sitting at a desk with a protective glowing field around him.

Enlarge (credit: Getty Images / Benj Edwards )

On Thursday, Microsoft announced that it will provide legal protection for customers who are sued for copyright infringement over content generated by the company's AI systems. This new policy, called the Copilot Copyright Commitment, is an expansion of Microsoft's existing intellectual property indemnification coverage, Reuters reports .

Microsoft's announcement comes as generative AI tools like ChatGPT have raised concerns about reproducing copyrighted material without proper attribution. Microsoft has heavily invested in AI through products like GitHub Copilot and Bing Chat that can generate original code, text, and images on demand. Its AI models have gained these capabilities by scraping publicly available data off of the Internet without seeking express permission from copyright holders.

By offering legal protection, Microsoft aims to give customers confidence in deploying its AI systems without worrying about potential copyright issues. The policy covers damages and legal fees, providing customers with an added layer of protection as generative AI sees rapid adoption across the tech industry.

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    The AI-assistant wars heat up with Claude Pro, a new ChatGPT Plus rival / ArsTechnica · Friday, 8 September - 20:37

The Anthropic Claude logo on a purple background.

Enlarge / The Anthropic Claude logo. (credit: Anthropic / Benj Edwards)

On Thursday, AI-maker and OpenAI competitor Anthropic launched Claude Pro , a subscription-based version of its web-based AI assistant, which functions similarly to ChatGPT. It's available for $20/month in the US or 18 pounds/month in the UK, and it promises five-times-higher usage limits, priority access to Claude during high-traffic periods, and early access to new features as they emerge.

Like ChatGPT, Claude Pro can compose text, summarize, do analysis, solve logic puzzles, and more. is what Anthropic offers as its conversational interface for its Claude 2 AI language model, similar to how ChatGPT provides an application wrapper for the underlying models GPT-3.5 and GPT-4. In February, OpenAI chose a subscription route for ChatGPT Plus , which for $20 a month also gives early access to new features, but it also unlocks access to GPT-4, which is OpenAI's most powerful language model.

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    OpenAI admits that AI writing detectors don’t work / ArsTechnica · Friday, 8 September - 15:42

A photo of a teacher covering his eyes.

Enlarge (credit: Getty Images )

Last week, OpenAI published tips for educators in a promotional blog post that shows how some teachers are using ChatGPT as an educational aid, along with suggested prompts to get started. In a related FAQ , they also officially admit what we already know: AI writing detectors don't work, despite frequently being used to punish students with false positives.

In a section of the FAQ titled "Do AI detectors work?", OpenAI writes , "In short, no. While some (including OpenAI) have released tools that purport to detect AI-generated content, none of these have proven to reliably distinguish between AI-generated and human-generated content."

In July, we covered in depth why AI writing detectors such as GPTZero don't work, with experts calling them "mostly snake oil." These detectors often yield false positives due to relying on unproven detection metrics. Ultimately, there is nothing special about AI-written text that always distinguishes it from human-written, and detectors can be defeated by rephrasing. That same month, OpenAI discontinued its AI Classifier, which was an experimental tool designed to detect AI-written text. It had an abysmal 26 percent accuracy rate.

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    OpenAI to host its first developer conference on November 6 in San Francisco / ArsTechnica · Thursday, 7 September - 15:16

A vintage tin toy robot collection belonging to Anthea Knowles, UK, 16th May 1980.

Enlarge (credit: Getty Images )

On Wednesday, OpenAI announced that it will host its first-ever developer conference, OpenAI DevDay, on November 6, 2023, in San Francisco. The one-day event hopes to bring together hundreds of developers to preview new tools and discuss ideas with OpenAI's technical staff.

Launched in November, ChatGPT has driven intense interest in generative AI around the world, including tech investments, talk of regulations, a GPU hardware boom , and the emergence of competitors. OpenAI says in a blog post that since launching its first API in 2020, over 2 million developers now use its models like GPT-3, GPT-4 , DALL-E , and Whisper for a variety of applications, "from integrating smart assistants into existing applications to building entirely new applications and services that weren't possible before."

While OpenAI's DevDay event will mostly take place in person, the keynote and potentially some parts of the conference will be streamed online. "The one-day event will bring hundreds of developers from around the world together with the team at OpenAI to preview new tools and exchange ideas," writes OpenAI. "In-person attendees will also be able to join breakout sessions led by members of OpenAI’s technical staff."

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    New ChatGPT feature remembers “custom instructions” between sessions / ArsTechnica · Monday, 24 July - 20:14

An AI-generated image of a chatbot in front of library shelves.

Enlarge / An AI-generated image of a chatbot in front of library shelves. (credit: Benj Edwards / Stable Diffusion)

On Thursday, OpenAI announced a new beta feature for ChatGPT that allows users to provide custom instructions that the chatbot will consider with every submission. The goal is to prevent users from having to repeat common instructions between chat sessions.

The feature is currently available in beta for ChatGPT Plus subscription members, but OpenAI says it will extend availability to all users over the coming weeks. As of this writing, the feature is not yet available in the UK and EU.

The Custom Instructions feature functions by letting users set their individual preferences or requirements that the AI model will then consider when generating responses. Instead of starting each conversation anew, ChatGPT can now be instructed to remember specific user preferences across multiple interactions.

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    OpenAI launches GPT-4 API for everyone / ArsTechnica · Monday, 10 July - 19:50 · 1 minute

OpenAI launches GPT-4 API for everyone

Enlarge (credit: OpenAI)

On Thursday, OpenAI announced that all paying API customers now have access to the GPT-4 API. It also introduced updates to chat-based models, announced a shift from the Completions API to the Chat Completions API, and outlined plans for deprecation of older models.

Generally considered its most powerful API product, the GPT-4 API first launched in March but has been under closed testing until now. As an API, developers can use a special interface to integrate OpenAI's large language model (LLM) into their own products for uses such as summarization, coding assistance, analysis, and composition. The model runs remotely on OpenAI's servers and provides output to other apps over the Internet.

OpenAI says the GPT-4 API with 8K context is accessible to existing developers who have a successful payment history, with plans to open access to new developers by the end of July. And in a move to distance itself from older GPT-3-style models, OpenAI has also opted to begin retiring "Completions API" models in favor of newer Chat Completions API models. Since its March launch , OpenAI says that its Chat Completions API models now account for 97 percent of OpenAI's API GPT usage.

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    Sarah Silverman sues OpenAI, Meta for being “industrial-strength plagiarists” / ArsTechnica · Monday, 10 July - 19:42 · 6 minutes

Comedian and author Sarah Silverman.

Enlarge / Comedian and author Sarah Silverman. (credit: Jason Kempin / Staff | Getty Images North America )

On Friday, the Joseph Saveri Law Firm filed US federal class-action lawsuits on behalf of Sarah Silverman and other authors against OpenAI and Meta, accusing the companies of illegally using copyrighted material to train AI language models such as ChatGPT and LLaMA .

Other authors represented include Christopher Golden and Richard Kadrey, and an earlier class-action lawsuit filed by the same firm on June 28 included authors Paul Tremblay and Mona Awad. Each lawsuit alleges violations of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, unfair competition laws, and negligence.

The Joseph Saveri Law Firm is no stranger to press-friendly legal action against generative AI. In November 2022, the same firm filed suit over GitHub Copilot for alleged copyright violations. In January 2023, the same legal group repeated that formula with a class-action lawsuit against Stability AI, Midjourney, and DeviantArt over AI image generators. The GitHub lawsuit is currently on path to trial, according to lawyer Matthew Butterick. Procedural maneuvering in the Stable Diffusion lawsuit is still underway with no clear outcome yet.

In a press release last month, the law firm described ChatGPT and LLaMA as "industrial-strength plagiarists that violate the rights of book authors." Authors and publishers have been reaching out to the law firm since March 2023, lawyers Joseph Saveri and Butterick wrote, because authors "are concerned" about these AI tools' "uncanny ability to generate text similar to that found in copyrighted textual materials, including thousands of books."

The most recent lawsuits from Silverman, Golden, and Kadrey were filed in a US district court in San Francisco. Authors have demanded jury trials in each case and are seeking permanent injunctive relief that could force Meta and OpenAI to make changes to their AI tools.

Meta declined Ars' request to comment. OpenAI did not immediately respond to Ars' request to comment.

A spokesperson for the Saveri Law Firm sent Ars a statement, saying, "If this alleged behavior is allowed to continue, these models will eventually replace the authors whose stolen works power these AI products with whom they are competing. This novel suit represents a larger fight for preserving ownership rights for all artists and other creators."

Accused of using “flagrantly illegal” data sets

Neither Meta nor OpenAI has fully disclosed what's in the data sets used to train LLaMA and ChatGPT. But lawyers for authors suing say they have deduced the likely data sources from clues in statements and papers released by the companies or related researchers. Authors have accused both OpenAI and Meta of using training data sets that contained copyrighted materials distributed without authors' or publishers' consent, including by downloading works from some of the largest e-book pirate sites.

In the OpenAI lawsuit , authors alleged that based on OpenAI disclosures, ChatGPT appeared to have been trained on 294,000 books allegedly downloaded from "notorious 'shadow library' websites like Library Genesis (aka LibGen), Z-Library (aka Bok), Sci-Hub, and Bibliotik." Meta has disclosed that LLaMA was trained on part of a data set called ThePile, which the other lawsuit alleged includes “all of Bibliotik,” and amounts to 196,640 books.

On top of allegedly accessing copyrighted works through shadow libraries, OpenAI is also accused of using a "controversial data set" called BookCorpus.

BookCorpus, the OpenAI lawsuit said, "was assembled in 2015 by a team of AI researchers for the purpose of training language models." This research team allegedly "copied the books from a website called Smashwords that hosts self-published novels, that are available to readers at no cost." These novels, however, are still under copyright and allegedly "were copied into the BookCorpus data set without consent, credit, or compensation to the authors."

Ars could not immediately reach the BookCorpus researchers or Smashwords for comment. [ Update: Dan Wood, COO of Draft2Digital—which acquired Smashwords in March 2022—told Ars that the Smashwords  "store site lists close to 800,000 titles for sale," with "about 100,000" currently priced at free.

"Typically, the free book will be the first of a series," Wood said. "Some authors will keep these titles free indefinitely, and some will run limited promotions where they offer the book for free. From what we understand of the BookCorpus data set, approximately 7,185 unique titles that were priced free at the time were scraped without the knowledge or permission of Smashwords or its authors." It wasn't until March 2023 when Draft2Digital "first became aware of the scraped books being used for commercial purposes and redistributed, which is a clear violation of Smashwords’ terms of service," Wood said.

"Every author, whether they have an internationally recognizable name or have just published their first book, deserve to have their copyright protected," Wood told Ars. "They also should have the confidence that the publishing service they entrust their work with will protect it. To that end, we are working diligently with our lawyers to fully understand the issues—including who took the data and where it was distributed—and to devise a strategy to ensure our authors’ rights are enforced. We are watching the current cases being brought against OpenAI and Meta very closely."]

“Numerous questions of law” raised

Authors claim that by utilizing "flagrantly illegal" data sets, OpenAI allegedly infringed copyrights of Silverman's book The Bedwetter , Golden’s Ararat , and Kadrey’s Sandman Slime . And Meta allegedly infringed copyrights of the same three books, as well as "several" other titles from Golden and Kadrey.

It seems obvious to authors that their books were used to train ChatGPT and LLaMA because the tools "can accurately summarize a certain copyrighted book." Although sometimes ChatGPT gets some details wrong, its summaries are otherwise very accurate, and this suggests that "ChatGPT retains knowledge of particular works in the training data set and is able to output similar textual content," the authors alleged.

It also seems obvious to authors that OpenAI and Meta knew that their models were "ingesting" copyrighted materials because all the copyright-management information (CMI) appears to have been "intentionally removed," authors alleged. That means that ChatGPT never responds to a request for a summary by citing who has the copyright, allowing OpenAI to "unfairly profit from and take credit for developing a commercial product based on unattributed reproductions of those stolen writing and ideas."

"OpenAI knew or had reasonable grounds to know that this removal of CMI would facilitate copyright infringement by concealing the fact that every output from the OpenAI Language Models is an infringing derivative work, synthesized entirely from expressive information found in the training data," the OpenAI complaint said.

Among "numerous questions of law" raised in these complaints was a particularly prickly question: Is ChatGPT or LLaMA itself an infringing derivative work based on perhaps thousands of authors' works?

Authors are already upset that companies seem to be unfairly profiting off their copyrighted materials, and the Meta lawsuit noted that any unfair profits currently gained could further balloon, as "Meta plans to make the next version of LLaMA commercially available." In addition to other damages, the authors are asking for restitution of alleged profits lost.

"Much of the material in the training datasets used by OpenAI and Meta comes from copyrighted works—including books written by plain­tiffs—that were copied by OpenAI and Meta without consent, without credit, and without compensation," Saveri and Butterick wrote in their press release.

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