This photo illustration shows the ChatGPT logo in a Washington, D.C. office on March 15, 2023.

Stephanie Reynolds | AFP | Getty Images

Chinese police have arrested a man who they claim used ChatGPT to create a fake news article about a train accident, in what appears to be the first case of enforcement action being taken in China under an unprecedented law related to artificial intelligence.

The case highlights efforts by Chinese authorities to regulate and monitor the uses of artificial intelligence as the technology advances.

Police in northwest China’s Gansu province have arrested a man, surnamed Hong, who they say fabricated a news story related to a train accident that killed nine people.

Authorities found that more than 20 accounts had posted this article on a blogging platform owned by Chinese search giant Baidu, garnering more than 15,000 views.

Hong allegedly used ChatGPT to create slightly different versions of the fake news article to pass double checks on the Baidu-owned platform.

ChatGPT, created by the American company OpenAI, is an example of a chatbot based on generative AI technology, which allows the program to generate responses based on user prompts and questions. For example, users can ask ChatGPT to devise a story based on specific instructions.

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Hong was arrested by Gansu police authorities under the first of its kind law governing “deep synthesis techniques” introduced by China this year. Deep synthesis techniques refer to the use of artificial intelligence to create text, images, videos, or other media. The law states that deep synthesis services cannot be used to spread false news.

China drafted the law while ChatGPT was really taking off and catching on, as authorities looked to get ahead of the technology. The Internet in China is highly censored and controlled. Beijing has sought to introduce laws governing new technologies that could raise concerns of the central government.

ChatGPT is blocked in China but can be accessed using a Virtual Private Network – software that can help bypass internet restrictions in the country.

Chinese tech giants are currently experimenting with their competitors on ChatGPT. But these are not widely available chatbots like ChatGPT. Instead, Chinese companies have been more cautious in their approach and targeted specific uses partly, analysts told CNBC, not to scare away regulators and the government.

For example, Ali Baba Tongyi Qianwen AI product will eventually be launched on DingTalk workplace communication software, and Tmall Genie, a smart home device provider.


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