In March, The Wall Street Journal reported that Apple had rejected an email app’s generative-AI-infused update until the developer gave the app a 17+ restriction, expressing concerns that AI tools could generate inappropriate content for children. In the App Store, OpenAI’s ChatGPT app is rated for “12+ years old.”
OpenAI did not respond to questions about any additional parameters it may have included in its iOS model, though presumably the mobile app met Apple’s requirements in order to be permitted in the App Store. Currently, on the web, ChatGPT declines to generate some problematic content when prompted; it will not, for example, write pornographic short stories or make religious jokes, based on WIRED’s tests, though it will write satire about religious wars. Satire is also a category that’s allowed in Apple’s App Store.
When asked why OpenAI’s iOS app for ChatGPT is arriving six months after the launch of its ChatGPT web app, spokesperson Kayla Wood says it was part of the company’s ethos of safe AI development. “This goes back to our whole strategy of slowly and safely putting these useful tools out into the world,” she adds.
OpenAI has made clear that its strategy for making AI smarter also involves training algorithms using feedback gained from logs of people using ChatGPT. The bot’s iOS manifestation could provide a valuable new stream of queries, and one with a more conversational tone if the speech recognition function proves popular.
A mobile app could also provide OpenAI with totally new signals, like location data. However, Apple has also limited data collection for third-party apps in recent years, starting with the rollout of iOS 14 and iPadOS 14.5 in 2021. App makers, for example, are now required to ask your permission when they want to track you across apps and services owned by other companies, and iPhone users can choose to limit location-tracking within apps.
Apple’s new controls also mostly block access to a phone’s ad-tracking identifier, throttling some ad-based business models, including Meta’s. OpenAI doesn’t run ads against ChatGPT (at least, not yet); it’s either free, premium, or pay-as-you-go, in the case of its image generator DALL-E.
Apple did not respond to an inquiry from WIRED about any content moderation or data-tracking restrictions that might apply specifically to this new category of AI tools, like the ChatGPT iOS app.
ChatGPT’s App Store debut may not be welcomed by the entrepreneurs who cannily launched their own chatbot apps over recent months. The app’s arrival on mobile devices might also help thwart scammers. Earlier this week, security firm Sophos warned that ChatGPT scams are showing up in the Google Play and Apple App Stores. Unknowing consumers are lured into downloading “free” apps pretending to offer access to OpenAI’s ChatGPT, only to later get hit with subscription fees for bogus apps. Now, with OpenAI’s app in the mix, it might be easier to avoid low-quality chatbots with names like “Chat GBT.”
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