Can AI Text Writers Help People Impacted By Copyright Law To Better Weigh In On Copyright?

from the a-tool-for-writing dept

One of the reasons that copyright is so unbalanced in favor of companies, especially Big Content, is that the process of bringing in new copyright laws is hard for ordinary members of the public to engage with. Typically, new laws come about after government consultations. Although these are public in the sense that they are not secret, and anyone can take part, their questions and format are at best intimidating, and at worst incomprehensible for ordinary people.

As a result of this issue, digital rights organizations often try to help members of the public respond to a consultation by preparing explanations of what the questions mean, as well as sample answers that people can use as models when they respond. The problem with this approach is that this means many of the responses look very similar, which leads to claims that they are “spam”, or considered only as one response, disregarding the actual number of citizens that took the time to respond. This allows unscrupulous politicians to dismiss even massive responses from members of the public as being “fake”. As I discuss in Walled Culture the book, this is precisely what happened with the EU Copyright Directive, and this was one of the reasons such a bad law was rammed through despite public opposition.

However, help may be at hand. Back in October, Walled Culture wrote about how generative AI programs were producing images from text prompts. In the last few weeks, many people have been exploring the fascinating capabilities of a new generative AI system called ChatGPT from OpenAI:

We’ve trained a model called ChatGPT which interacts in a conversational way. The dialogue format makes it possible for ChatGPT to answer followup questions, admit its mistakes, challenge incorrect premises, and reject inappropriate requests. ChatGPT is a sibling model to InstructGPT, which is trained to follow an instruction in a prompt and provide a detailed response.

There are lots of impressive and entertaining examples online of what people have asked ChatGPT to do, and how it responded. It’s worth emphasizing that however convincing the result may look, there is no guarantee that what it says is correct – ChatGPT doesn’t understand what it produces, which means it can happily produce utter nonsense.

That said, it is very good at turning prompts and rough ideas consisting of just a few words and phrases into polished prose. This means that it will be a boon for people who know what they want to say but find it difficult to write fluently.

In particular, it means that it will be great for responding to copyright consultations. For example, ChatGPT and similar systems could explain what a particularly abstruse question might mean. It could suggest a range of answers as starting points for a person’s response. To fine-tune the output, it could be prompted to include personal elements that will ensure that it is different from other responses that use the same AI system, to head off charges that it is fake.

It’s not a perfect solution to the problem of consultations – ideally, they would be conducted in a way that was designed for everyone, not just copyright specialists. But it might help people to get around at least some of the most glaring issues with today’s approach, and broaden participation in these important initiatives.

Follow me @glynmoody on Mastodon or Twitter, Originally posted to WalledCulture.

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Companies: openai

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Comments on “Can AI Text Writers Help People Impacted By Copyright Law To Better Weigh In On Copyright?”

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17 Comments
Rich (profile) says:

Did an AI write this article?

“Typically, new laws come about after government consultations. Although these are public in the sense that they are not secret, and anyone can take part, their questions and format are at best intimidating, and at worst incomprehensible for ordinary people.”

First, you said “bribe” wrong.

Second, the proposition that the OpenAI chat bot would be used to help people understand and/or respond to questions that law makers might ask when crafting new legislation shows a level of optimism that modern science generally considers unattainable, which makes me second guess the organic nature of the author.

While I understand that it would be theoretically possible for members of the public to use this to respond to such questions, the idea that the the corporations that regularly write the legislation used to gift wrap large deliveries of cash seems a bit absurd.

The most probable contribution to the political process from ChatGPT will be all of the well written objections that lobbyists for the broadband industry post to every available forum the next time a Net Neutrality bill shows up.

This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it.

sara (profile) says:

Artificial intelligence is becoming increasingly sophisticated and is, today, capable of originating content with minimal human input. This development has created some interesting issues in the world of intellectual property, not the least of which is attributing authorship over works authored by artificial intelligence.

Technological advancements in the artificial intelligence (AI) space have led to the creation of technologies and systems that can generate original content across various media. This has raised interesting questions as to ownership and infringement of AI-created content under copyright law. https://www.tigerishome.us/

Synonymous Scaredycat (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2

It does! It confabulates totally incorrect details out of nothing in order to provide a simulation of what you’re asking for in typical cadence for that type of content. It’s still spewing out nonsense, but now that nonsense is slightly more convincing.

So you probably will get those synonyms, but you’ll have to fact-check and rewrite the entirely of everything it generates. People using it for research (why???) should be aware of this issue, because it may even generate totally fictional references in the proper formats.

As one writer put it, it’s basically just an advanced version of smartphone auto-suggest features. And while they may be able to suggest a likely outcome to a sentence, they don’t actually ‘know’ anything. This is the same thing but scaled up to something that doesn’t fall apart into apparent meaninglessness after a sentence or two.

Teresa Kubacka had some interesting interactions with ChatGPT in that regard, and Charles Seife even had it write an obituary which displayed the same set of issues.

Synonymous Scaredycat (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Thanks for seeing me, Stephen T. Stone.

Fiction writers do exist and we do like to add fact to our fiction for the sake of verisimilitude. Especially science fiction writers!

I don’t think these text-generators make high-quality fiction authors, though. They lack the actual intelligence to be creative; maybe their training is enough that they could churn out pulp eBooks simply due to those being very formulaic.

Ironically this whole topic (machine learning) is one I’ve been working on a handful of stories about since last year.

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