Two university students recreated an artificial intelligence project capable of writing fake news that was considered ‘too hazardous’ to be released to the public. The pair say they aren’t hoping to cause chaos by releasing the code, but want to show that creating this kind of software is achievable without the resources of someone like Elon Musk.
They used free cloud computing time provided by Google to academic institutions to complete the project. Speaking to Wired, Mr Cohen said: ‘This allows everyone to have an important conversation about security, and researchers to help secure against future potential abuses.
‘I’ve gotten scores of messages, and most of them have been like, “Way to go”.’ The software, named GPT-2, was trained using eight million web pages, and adapts the style and content of what it produces in line with your input.
Far from being cautioned by the dystopian ‘fake news’ generator, the text it produces is disjointed and obviously not a skilled author’s work. When the title ‘Donald Trump says he should be president for life’ was given, the recent version of Open AI provided the following output: ‘The announcement produced on Twitter on Tuesday night came at a time when the Republican billionaire is still a long shot to be elected president.
‘But if he wins the presidency, Trump has promised “major tax cuts and massive infrastructure spending.” And this is likely to be a top priority for his administration. ‘So what would Trump’s tax plan, unveiled during his campaign, look like?
‘”There’s a little more detail than he’s got, but he’s got a lot of information there,” said Matt Kibbe, a spokesman for the House GOP’s campaign arm. “There are a lot of details that are going to be released in the next few weeks”.’
Experts say, however, that we should remain cautious about developing such software. Speaking to the BBC, Dave Coplin, founder of the Envisioners AI consultancy, said: ‘When the original– and understandable– problem dies down, what remains is a fundamental discussion for our community on how to think about a globe where the line between human-generated content and computer-generated content is becoming progressively difficult to distinguish.’
OpenAI is a group established by Elon Musk, supported by heavyweights from Silicon Valley, including Reid Hoffman from LinkedIn. Musk was famously an outspoken AI critic, calling it the greatest existential threat to humanity and warning’ that we could produce an immortal dictator from whom we would never escape. The scientists said: ‘We are not releasing the qualified model because of our worries about malicious technology apps’.
‘As an experiment in responsible disclosure, we are instead releasing a much smaller model for researchers to experiment with. ‘We’re not at a stage yet where we’re saying, this is a danger. We’re trying to make people aware of these issues and start a conversation.’