April 20, 2024

Image for article titled OpenAI accused the New York Times of paying someone to feed ChatGPT deceptive prompts

Photo: Stefan Wermuth/Bloomberg (Getty Images)

The New York Times is currently suing OpenAI for copyright infringement and claims that the influential tech startup used its journalistic material to train its chatbot, ChatGPT, without paying the proper licensing fees. But Sam Altman’s company is fighting back against these accusations with some accusations of its own. This week, OpenAI claimed that the newspaper had “hacked” its products.

In a legal filing made public this week, OpenAI claimed that its products had been abused by “someone” who was paid by the New York Times to do so. In its own words, the company claimed:

“The allegations in the Times’s complaint do not meet its famously rigorous journalistic standards. The truth, which will come out in the course of this case, is that the Times paid someone to hack OpenAI’s products. It took them tens of thousands of attempts to generate the highly anomalous results that make up Exhibit J to the Complaint. They were able to do so only by targeting and exploiting a bug (which OpenAI has committed to addressing) by using deceptive prompts that blatantly violate OpenAI’s terms of use. And even then, they had to feed the tool portions of the very articles they sought to elicit verbatim passages of, virtually all of which already appear on multiple public websites.”

It’s not entirely clear what OpenAI is talking about. If I had to guess, it sounds like the New York Times hired a contractor to see whether they could make ChatGPT reproduce their reporting. That said, it’s not clear that’s the case. Gizmodo reached out to the New York Times and OpenAI for clarification and will update this story when we receive a response.

OpenAI has built its business off of scraping huge swaths of the internet. Artists, authors, journalists, and filmmakers have all had their work hoovered up by the company’s web scrapers; that work has then been used to train the company’s high-octane, content-generating algorithms. Many creatives have decided to sue the company.

That said, many of those lawsuits have floundered, so far. The Times’ lawsuit has been deemed one of the most promising legal attacks on the AI industry’s business model, which some critics have referred to as “theft.” OpenAI has continually attempted to get the newspaper’s lawsuit thrown out of court.

This article originally appeared on Gizmodo.

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