Trust Sam Altman and his band of alternately intelligent followers to do everything in their power that can subvert global efforts to control a domain that could potentially destroy us. Not that they aren’t in favor of creating guide rails around the use of GenAI and its successors. Altman and his OpenAI (along with Microsoft) just want to be the ones doing it.
The latest effort from OpenAI to team up with Common Sense Media to provide family friendly chatbot apps powered by its GenAI models is another example of how this group wants to prove that they are capable of self-censorship (or is it self governance?). For, the growing appetite for AI regulation that we are witnessing now, could well result in legal strictures in the future.
Which could be the direct reason why OpenAI is hoping to win the trust of policymakers globally as well as parents at home through this association with Common Sense Media that would minimize tech and media harm to children, especially in the pre-teens and teens. The partner is a nonprofit organization that reviews and ranks the suitability of media and tech for kids.
How does the partnership work?
So what would OpenAI do in this partnership? It will work closely with the nonprofit to curate “family-friendly” chatbot apps powered by its own GenAI models. These would find pride of place in the GPT Store, the marketplace that Altman and team created, and there would be ratings provided by Common Sense based on its evaluation standards.
These are the words of Sam Altman himself, which came as part of a statement. “AI offers incredible benefits for families and teens, and our partnership with Common Sense will further strengthen our safety work, ensuring that families and teens can use our tools with confidence,” he goes on to say.
The partnership came into being about three months after OpenAI agreed to the ratings and reviews designed by Common Sense’s new framework that came into existence around last September. The purpose, as stated by the nonprofit, is to assess the safety, transparency, and ethical use and impact of the AI products.
What’s the purpose of the alliance?
The framework is geared towards creating some sort of consumption label for AI-powered apps, says Common Sense co-founder James Steyer. The purpose of the app is to understand what some of the chatbots are being used for and then highlight the areas of potential opportunities and harm against a set of common sense tenets, he says.
In a press statement, Steyer says today’s parents remain generally less knowledgeable about GenAI tools than younger generations. An Impact Research poll commissioned by Common Sense Media late last year found that 58% of students aged 12 to 18 have used ChatGPT compared to 30% of parents of school-aged children.
“Together, Common Sense and OpenAI will work to make sure that AI has a positive impact on all teens and families,” Steyer said in an emailed statement. “Our guides and curation will be designed to educate families and educators about safe, responsible use of [OpenAI tools like] ChatGPT, so that we can collectively avoid any unintended consequences of this emerging technology.”
From OpenAI’s perspective, this alliance couldn’t have come at a more opportune time, given the regulatory pressures they are facing around the impact of its ChatGPT technology. The US Federal Trade Commission had started a probe into OpenAI on whether ChatGPT harmed consumers through its collection of data and publication of false statements on individuals.
A similar case has been instituted by the European data authorities who expressed concerns over the private information handling by OpenAI. Its set of tools such as GenAI tools tend to confidently make things up and get basic facts wrong. In addition, there is also the question of bias based around the reflection of the data that are used to train such models.
There is an increasing belief that kids and teens are increasingly tuning up to them to help with schoolwork as well as personal issues. A poll conducted by the Center for Democracy and Technology says 29% of kids report having used ChatGPT to deal with anxiety or mental health issues, 22% for issues with friends and 16% for family conflicts.