Italian senator provokes parliament with AI-generated speech

An Italian senator spoke before members of the Italian parliament with — unbeknownst to parliament members — a speech entirely composed by artificial intelligence (AI).

In the parliamentary meeting on May 31, Italian Senator Marco Lombardo pulled the stunt to spark a “serious debate” among his colleagues about what’s at stake and in-store from AI usage, according to a local news report.

Lombardo’s speech was reportedly created via OpenAI’s GPT-4 chatbot. In the same interview with local media, he revealed that he trained the chatbot with the draft law of the Italian-Swiss agreement on cross-border workers, which was the topic of the meeting, along with other recent developments on the subject.

“It seemed important to me that the Italian parliament also open its eyes to a phenomenon that is now unavoidable.”

Carlo Calenda, the leader of Lombardo’s party Azione, tweeted that the speech was “flawless” though didn’t know whether he could call this development “progress” or “taking a step back.”

Lombardo told local reporters that he wanted to show politicians that their jobs too could be “threatened” by AI. 

“Not even politics can think of exempting itself from a comparison with algorithms. You need to know how to use it consciously.”

On May 18, Italian officials set aside $33 million to enhance the development of digital skills for workers at risk of termination due to automation and AI in various professional sectors. 

Related: OpenAI warns European officials over upcoming AI regulations

Back in March, Italy banned the use of ChatGPT in the country after the application suffered a data breach. After demanding more transparency from OpenAI, the application was able to reenter the country once again about a month later on April 29. 

However, Italy’s ban prompted other global governments to look into the technology and begin to consider regulations. Though some governments, such as officials in Romania, have already begun implementing AI for policy recommendations.

Currently, regulators in the European Union are working through drafts of the forthcoming EU AI Act, which is set to take effect in the following two to three years to regulate the public use of generative AI tools.

Most recently the EU tech chief said regulators should push out a voluntary code of conduct for AI companies, so as to not waste any time prior to laws coming into place.

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