ChatGPT: a data privacy nightmare

Following our posting of the February 5th piece entitled ChatGPT and you, HG member Dale Watts asked whether “utilizing this system might add my name to lists that result in unsolicited advertising or unanticipated intrusion”.

Well, you don’t even have to use ChatGPT to be worried. If you’ve ever posted online – anywhere – you ought to be concerned says Uri Gal of The Conversation

Having already topped 100 million active users, ChatGPT is the fastest-growing consumer application ever launched. So successful that  Google unveiled its own version called Bard this week. Prepare for an Artificial Intelligence (AI) arms race fueled by our personal data!

OpenAI, the company behind ChatGPT, fed the tool some 300 billion words from the internet. So if you’ve ever written a blog post, product review, comment on online article, your stuff may well have been gobbled up by ChatGPT.


Well, did OpenAI ask us if it could use our personal data – some that can be used to identify us, our family members, or our location? No. And OpenAI offers no way for us to check whether our personal information has been used, or to request it be deleted. This “right to be forgotten” is particularly important when the information is inaccurate or misleading, which seems to happen often with ChatGPT.

Sidebar: I had to laugh after asking Chat GPT tell me something about Inazo Nitobe – the famous Japanese educator and statesman responsible for the founding of UNESCO. ChatGPT weirdly responded that he had been a trombonist in a Sapporo Band. Weird because Nitobe is not known to have played any musical instrument, though he was a member of the Sapporo Band, a late-nineteenth-century group of Japanese converts to Christianity, not a musical group. Since I pointed out its error (and ChatGPT does learn), it is not likely to make that mistake again.

We also open up privacy risks when we ask ChatGPT to perform certain tasks, such as reviewing a draft essay or biography, inadvertently slipping sensitive information into the public domain.

If that wasn’t enough, the company’s privacy policy states that it collects our IP address, browser type and settings, data on our interactions with the site, and information about our browsing activities over time and across websites. And, it may share that personal information with unspecified third parties to meet their business objectives.

Bottom line: It’s a brave new AI world out there, and whether you use ChatGPT or not, be even more careful than ever of what personal information you post online, ANYWHERE! The bots will find you…

Categories: All, General Interest

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