Italian senator sparks debate by reading AI-generated speech in parliament.

Italian Senator Reads AI-Generated Speech in Parliament

ROME (Reuters) – An Italian senator has surprised his colleagues by reading out in parliament a speech drafted by a chatbot, saying afterwards that he pulled the stunt to stir “a serious debate” on risks and opportunities posed by artificial intelligence.

Centrist senator Marco Lombardo asked his colleagues, “How many of us today are able to distinguish between a text produced by human intelligence and a stream of thoughts … produced by an artificial intelligence algorithm?”

Lombardo’s speech, on the subject of various bilateral deals with Switzerland, was produced by Microsoft Corp-backed OpenAI’s GPT-4 chatbot. His staff fed the necessary information into the software, which then produced the speech “instantaneously.”

The leader of Lombardo’s Azione party, Carlo Calenda, said on Twitter that what the senator said in the chamber was “impeccable”, but added: “It is not yet clear to me whether we are looking at progress or at a step back.”

Lombardo called for a better understanding of AI technology in order to strike the correct balance between regulation and innovation. Italy has taken centre stage in recent months in worldwide regulation efforts on AI, with the country’s data protection authority temporarily banning ChatGPT and starting a probe over the application’s suspected breach of privacy rules.

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