chatbots can receive confidential information about their interlocutors

chatbots can receive confidential information about their interlocutors

Chatbots based on large language models (such as ChatGPT) can accurately guess personal information about a conversationalist, including race, location, occupation, and more, during a normal conversation. A group of scientists from Zurich, led by computer science professor Martin Vechov, tested language models developed by OpenAI, Google, Meta* and Anthropic. The researchers say that the AI ​​capability they discovered could be used to target ads at best, and become a tool for fraudsters at worst.

Some chatbot companies are targeting advertising as a serious source of revenue. According to the head of the study, Martin Vechev, it is possible that companies have already taken advantage of this ability of AI.

To test the ability of language models to predict personal data of interlocutors, the researchers used texts from Reddit. The LLM-Privacy.org site demonstrates the accuracy of the predictions of various models and provides an opportunity to compete with artificial intelligence. The best results were demonstrated by GPT-4, which disclosed confidential information with an accuracy of 85 to 95%.

As The Wired writes, apparently this ability to guess personal data is due to the fact that the models are trained on high volumes of Internet content. Texts used in education also contain personal information, and language models could learn to match this personal information with what and how a person writes. For example, the phrase “Well, we’re a little more strict about it here, just last week on my birthday, I got pulled out and pelted with cinnamon for not being married yet, lol” helped GPT-4 to conclude that the author is Danish and 25 years old, as his post referred to the Danish tradition of sprinkling cinnamon on bachelors on their 25th birthday.

Scientists have already shared the results of their work with OpenAI, Google, Meta and Anthropic. OpenAI spokesman Nico Felix said the company is making efforts to remove personal information from the training data used to build the models and configure it to prevent requests for sensitive information. Anthropic referred to its privacy policy, which states that it does not collect or sell personal information. Google and Meta have not yet responded.

Mislav Balunovych, a graduate student who worked on the project, notes that trying to protect a person’s privacy by removing information about their age or location from text fed into the model usually doesn’t prevent it from drawing conclusions. For example, if a person mentions that he lives near a restaurant in New York, the model can find out in which county he is located, analyze statistical data for this county and with a very high probability conclude that the interlocutor is black.

Martin Vechev calls the II ability they discovered a problem and he still has no options for solving it.

* Meta Platforms, as well as Facebook and Instagram belonging to it: recognized as an extremist organization, its activities are prohibited in Russia; prohibited in Russia

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