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An Aussie Mayor Is Planning to Sue ChatGPT For Defamation Over Errors Relating to a Bribery Case

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A mayor from regional Victoria says he plans to sue OpenAI, the creator of ChatGPT, for false claims about his role in an old bribery case, in what could be the first lawsuit of its kind in the world.

According to the Australian Financial Review, Brian Hood, mayor of Hepburn Shire, a town 120 kilometres northwest of Melbourne, became “concerned” about his reputation after he was told that ChatGPT falsely named him as guilty in a 2012 bribery case.

The case involved Note Printing Australia, a subsidiary of the Reserve Bank of Australia. It concerned a June 2007 memo that revealed alleged suspect payments made in Malaysia and Nepal by the subsidiary.

Brian Hood’s lawyers said he did work for Note Printing Australia as company secretary, but he was “the person who notified authorities about payment of bribes” at the time. As in, he was the whistleblower in the case, not the guilty party.

Hood’s lawyers said they sent a letter of concern to OpenAI on March 21. They asked the company to fix the errors made by ChatGPT in 28 days or face a defamation lawsuit.

ChatGPT is not all-knowing 

As ChatGPT continues to grab attention for its ability to perform a multitude of supposedly ‘ingenious’ tasks like predicting winning lottery numbers, it remains incapable of accomplishing basic tasks like Wordle.
In a latest research paper by Microsoft, the company also claimed that although the chatbot is showing “sparks of general intelligence”, it is still prone to “hallucinations” and makes basic mistakes in subjects like mathematics and English.

Aussie students who used ChatGPT for assignments also shared with The Chainsaw that the chatbot is not always a helpful assistant.

“… ChatGPT’s responses have been so poor and inaccurate that most students, including myself, have opted to almost completely rewrite the script [for a media assignment].” one Aussie student from UNSW told us.

The takeaway? Don’t trust everything that a machine says, and it’s useful to always fact-check its sources. At the time of writing, Hood’s legal team is yet to go forward with the planned lawsuit.