The latest development in AI technology, which has raised widespread concern and criticism, is the creation of ChatGPT (generative pre-trained transformer), an AI computer program developed by startup company, OpenAI.
ChatGPT is a language model AI computer program which generates output in the form of dialogue from text-based input received from the user. This output generated by the chatbot on ChatGPT, can take many forms including essays, research papers, even source code. Accordingly, a user can pose a question to the chatbot and receive a human-like dialogue in response thereto. The output that ChatGPT delivers is generated from a large dataset of text on the internet to which it has access. What contributes to the genius of ChatGPT is that the output is delivered in mere seconds. Remarkable right? Or too good to be true?
One of the main concerns with ChatGPT is its ability to generate deepfake text, which essentially means that deepfake creators can use this platform to create output which imitates human-like characteristics and work. Accordingly, the use of ChatGPT to generate academic articles, research papers or the like give rise to serious concerns regarding academic integrity and ethics.
Moreover, deepfake content, more specifically, in the form of video material can potentially have catastrophic consequences when consideration is given to political friction between countries such as Ukraine and Russia where a possibility might arise where a deepfake video surfaces purporting to be President Volodmyr Zelenskyy instructing his countrymen to surrender in the current war.
The more pertinent question to consider, from an intellectual property perspective, is who would be the author and owner of the copyrighted work created by such an artificial intelligence? South African copyright law distinguishes between the author and owner of a copyright work, as the author of the work may not necessarily be the owner thereof.
The author of the output generated by ChatGPT will vary depending on the type of work created. For example, the author of a literary work is the person who first makes or creates the work, whereas the author of a computer program is the person who exercises control over the making of the computer program. Accordingly, the pertinent question is who would be the author of a literary work of such as an essay when the program generated the essay? The court, in Payen Components South Africa Ltd v Bovin Gaskets CC, drew a clear distinction between computer-generated work and computer-aided work. Computer-generated work is work created by the computer program, where the computer program was developed and designed by a human author. However, in the case of work generated by AI, the work is clearly not generated by a human author and control and direction is expended by AI.
This is indicative of the necessity in, amongst others, copyright law to adapt to the latest technology. More so in the sense of aiming at technological development rather than defining a specific circumstance.