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To what extent is a website hosted in the US legally liable for the output of an AI chat bot?

For example, if ChatGPT produced the phrase:

kill yourself

and OpenAI distributed this phrase to me over the internet, and I did it, could relatives hold OpenAI liable for this? As far as I understand, websites are generally liable for any content posted there, and chat bot output is part of that, whether it's AI-generated content or manually curated content.

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    In your example, liable for what specifically? Commented Jun 17, 2023 at 18:37

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We do not really know, and relevant legislation is pending.

The most relevant case for this, where the company that is hosting the service is being held responsible for the output of the chatbot, is MARK WALTERS vs. OpenAI, L.L.C.. This is described by The Verge:

A radio host in Georgia, Mark Walters, is suing the company after ChatGPT stated that Walters had been accused of defrauding and embezzling funds from a non-profit organization. The system generated the information in response to a request from a third party, a journalist named Fred Riehl.

It seems plausible that if Open AI are held responsible in this case then they may be in your hypothetical.

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Air Canada was found liable for the misrepresentations made by a chat bot on its website. The chat bot provided wrong information about fares, and a customer relied on that information to their detriment.

The customer brought a claim of negligent misrepresentation.

Moffatt v. Air Canada, 2024 BCCRT 149:

Air Canada argues it cannot be held liable for information provided by one of its agents, servants, or representatives – including a chatbot. It does not explain why it believes that is the case. In effect, Air Canada suggests the chatbot is a separate legal entity that is responsible for its own actions. This is a remarkable submission. While a chatbot has an interactive component, it is still just a part of Air Canada’s website. It should be obvious to Air Canada that it is responsible for all the information on its website. It makes no difference whether the information comes from a static page or a chatbot.

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For many reasons, no. First, you yourself produced and distributed the phrase "kill yourself", so you are more likely to be found to be the cause of all subsequent suicides. There are billions of potential plaintiffs who have distributed this phrase, blaming one specific entity take extraordinary evidence. Second and focusing on suicide-specific aspects, an AI has no intent (often a requirement behind laws outlawing "causing" a suicide), which precludes criminal liability, likewise "encouraging" presupposes a mental state that a program does not have.

One might attempt to assign liability for unleashing a "dangerous object", where one can be strictly liable for damages caused by blasting or operating an oil well in downtown Dallas. The hallucinations of an AI do not rise to the level of being ultra-hazardous.

Also note that Open AI does not distribute such pseudo-instructions, whereas SE does distribute user-generated content. The Open AI portal is more similar to a keyboard or computer, it is a tool that one can use to generate text, and it makes it possible to copy and redistribute said text. One cannot sue the manufacturers of typewriters and paper for making it possible to type up and disseminate the text "Kill yourself".

Then also, if Smith used Open AI to generate text that causes death and gets sued, and plaintiff also drags Open AI into court, Smith has to shoulder all of the liability pursuant to the Open AI indemnification clause (§7).

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  • What makes you think that it makes any difference how these words on the website? Whether it is a hallucinating AI or a careless employee?
    – gnasher729
    Commented Jun 17, 2023 at 15:19
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    I feel like you're adding things to the hypothetical that are not there. The user did not distribute the phrase. They were presented it by the AI, and acted on it.
    – D M
    Commented Jun 17, 2023 at 16:47
  • It doesn't matter who "presented" the words. If they are on your website, that's your website. You are responsible.
    – gnasher729
    Commented Jun 17, 2023 at 16:56
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    @gnasher729 If you have an answer then write an answer. As it is, section 230 makes it possibly matter a little who presented the words.
    – D M
    Commented Jun 17, 2023 at 17:02
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    @gnasher, responsible for what? Commented Jun 17, 2023 at 18:39
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No country currently has a law regulating such a thing; People should learn to judge whether the AI gives the correct results or not.

But I think out of caution, especially in the face of mentally immature teenagers, the answer content of AI chat should not appear similar to suicide, crime, drugs, which will strengthen some people's incorrect understanding.

But I was curious to see what answers GPTChatbot would come up with these days, and tried them out on the site;

Well, the answer to AI seems to have some safeguards in place.

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