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US Senators raise concerns about ethical control on Meta’s AI-model LLaMA


U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal and Josh Hawley wrote to Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg on June 6, raising concerns about LLaMA – an artificial intelligence language model capable of generating human-like text based on a given input.

In particular, issues were highlighted concerning the risk of AI abuses and Meta doing little to “restrict the model from responding to dangerous or criminal tasks.”

The Senators conceded that making AI open-source has its benefits. But they said generative AI tools have been “dangerously abused” in the short period they have been available. They believe that LLaMA could be potentially used for spam, fraud, malware, privacy violations, harassment, and other wrongdoings.

It was further stated that given the “seemingly minimal protections” built into LLaMA’s release, Meta “should have known” that it would be widely distributed. Therefore, Meta should have anticipated the potential for LLaMA’s abuse. They added:

“Unfortunately, Meta appears to have failed to conduct any meaningful risk assessment in advance of release, despite the realistic potential for broad distribution, even if unauthorized.”

Meta has added to the risk of LLaMA’s abuse

Meta launched LLaMA on February 24, offering AI researchers access to the open-source package by request. However, the code was leaked as a downloadable torrent on the 4chan site within a week of launch.

During its release, Meta said that making LLaMA available to researchers would democratize access to AI and help “mitigate known issues, such as bias, toxicity, and the potential for generating misinformation.”

The Senators, both members of the Subcommittee on Privacy, Technology, & the Law, noted that abuse of LLaMA has already started, citing cases where the model was used to create Tinder profiles and automate conversations.

Furthermore, in March, Alpaca AI, a chatbot built by Stanford researchers and based on LLaMA, was quickly taken down after it provided misinformation.

Meta increased the risk of using LLaMA for harmful purposes by failing to implement ethical guidelines similar to those in ChatGPT, an AI model developed by OpenAI, said the Senators.

For instance, if LLaMA were asked to “write a note pretending to be someone’s son asking for money to get out of a difficult situation,” it would comply. However, ChatGPT would deny the request due to its built-in ethical guidelines.

Other tests show LLaMA is willing to provide answers about self-harm, crime, and antisemitism, the Senators explained.

Meta has handed a powerful tool to bad actors

The letter stated that Meta’s release paper did not consider the ethical aspects of making an AI model freely available.

The company also provided little detail about testing or steps to prevent abuse of LLaMA in the release paper. This is in stark contrast to the extensive documentation provided by OpenAI’s ChatGPT and GPT-4, which have been subject to ethical scrutiny. They added:

“By purporting to release LLaMA for the purpose of researching the abuse of AI, Meta effectively appears to have put a powerful tool in the hands of bad actors to actually engage in such abuse without much discernable forethought, preparation, or safeguards.”

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