ChatGPT Mistakes Japan’s Chief AI Advocate for Prime Minister

(Bloomberg) -- ChatGPT failed to correctly identify Japanese Digital Transformation Minister Kono Taro, even as he advocates for more use of artificial intelligence to help overcome labor shortages caused by a population decline.

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“I asked ChatGPT who Kono Taro is and he came back with the wrong answer,” Kono said in an interview with Bloomberg Television broadcast Monday. “So you need to be careful,” he added. Kono asks that his name be written in Japanese style, with surname first.

Kono was speaking as Prime Minister Fumio Kishida established a panel to look into the economic potential and risks of AI, seeking to take a lead on the regulation of the technology as this year’s chair of the Group of Seven wealthy democracies.

The group’s digital ministers last month agreed on an action plan for promoting “trustworthy AI,” and the European Union this month took a step toward more regulation of AI tools such as OpenAI’s ChatGPT and Google’s Bard.

“Robots are not a threat to the labor force in Japan,” because of the shrinking population, Kono said. “We are more eager to try new AI technologies,” he added, saying the government was discussing data set creation with Microsoft Corp. and other providers of the technology. “The minority language data set compared to English is not big, so it could be skewed,” he said.

SoftBank Group Corp.’s mobile unit last week announced it is joining the global race to develop a version of OpenAI Inc.’s ChatGPT, following a series of US and Chinese firms.

Kono, who was appointed to his current post last year, has long battled to do away with cumbersome government paperwork and the use of older technologies, like fax machines and floppy disks. He is seeking to pass a bill as soon as this month that would remove such requirements from more than 10,000 laws and regulations after a search through paperwork stretching back for decades, he said.

The government’s bid to issue ID cards for all residents, which streamline the issuance of local government paperwork, hit a snag recently when card users were mistakenly issued with residence certificates for unrelated individuals, triggering concerns over privacy.

Kono said he believed local governments would start running the program again after thorough checks by Fujitsu Ltd., the developer of the system.

The outspoken Kono, who lost to Kishida in a run-off vote for the leadership of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party in 2021, often tops media polls on who is the most suitable person to be prime minister.

Asked how ChatGPT had identified him when he entered a query about himself, Kono said it had called him “prime minister of Japan.”

--With assistance from Kurumi Mori.

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