UNITED STATES NEWS

Philly sheriff’s campaign takes down bogus ‘news’ stories posted to site that were generated by AI

Feb 5, 2024, 4:44 PM

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — The campaign team behind Philadelphia’s embattled sheriff acknowledged Monday that a series of positive “news” stories posted to their site were generated by ChatGPT.

Sheriff Rochelle Bilal’s campaign removed more than 30 stories created by a consultant using the generative AI chatbot. The move came after a Philadelphia Inquirer story on Monday reported that local news outlets could not find the stories in their archives.

Experts say this type of misinformation can erode the public trust and threaten democracy. Bilal’s campaign said the stories were based on real events.

“Our campaign provided the outside consultant talking points which were then provided to the AI service,” the campaign said in a statement. “It is now clear that the artificial intelligence service generated fake news articles to support the initiatives that were part of the AI prompt.”

Large language models like OpenAI’s ChatGPT work by repeatedly predicting the most plausible next word in a sentence. That makes them good at completing challenging prompts in seconds, but it also causes them to make frequent errors known as hallucinations.

Many Americans have started using these tools to write work emails, website copy and other documents more quickly. But that can lead to trouble if they don’t prioritize accuracy or carefully fact-check the material.

Two lawyers had to apologize to a judge in Manhattan federal court last year, for example, after they used ChatGPT to hunt for legal precedents and didn’t immediately notice that the system made some up.

Mike Nellis, founder of the AI campaign tool Quiller, called the campaign consultant’s use of AI “completely irresponsible.”

“It’s unethical,” he said. “It’s straight up lying.”

But he said OpenAI is responsible for enforcing its policies, which currently don’t allow politicians to use ChatGPT for campaigning. OpenAI didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Nellis said local, state and federal regulation of AI tools in politics is also needed as the technology advances. Though bipartisan discussions in Congress have stressed the need for such legislation, no federal law has passed yet.

The Bilal story list, which the site dubbed her “Record of Accomplishments,” had ended with a disclaimer — which the Inquirer called new — that the information “makes no representations or warranties of any kind” about the accuracy of the information.

Some, including a fired whistleblower in Bilal’s office, fear such misinformation could confuse voters and contribute to ongoing mistrust and threats to democracy.

“I have grave concerns about that,” said Brett Mandel, who briefly served as her finance chief in 2020 and spoke before the campaign issued the statement.

“I think we have seen at the local and national level, not only a disregard for truth and the institutions we have thought of as being the gatekeepers to truth,” he said, “but I think we have eroded all trust in this area.”

Mandel filed one of several whistleblower suits lodged against the office. He alleged he was fired for raising concerns about office finances. Bilal has been criticized during her tenure over office spending, campaign finance reports, the reported loss of hundreds of weapons and other issues.

The list of news stories, which includes purported publication dates, attributed four news stories to the Inquirer, none of which are in the paper’s archives, spokesperson Evan Benn said. The others were attributed to three local broadcast stations — WHYY, WCAU and KYW.

___

Swenson reported from New York.

___

The Associated Press receives support from several private foundations to enhance its explanatory coverage of elections and democracy. See more about AP’s democracy initiative here. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

United States News

Associated Press

2 killed in helicopter crash in Washington state, authorities say

BLUESTEM, Wash. (AP) — Two men died in a helicopter crash in eastern Washington state, authorities said. Lincoln County Fire District 6 Chief Brandon Larmer told KREM-TV that the helicopter had two people aboard when it crashed Wednesday afternoon. The men who died were identified Thursday as 68-year-old Ryan Sandvig, of Spokane, and 63-year-old Mark […]

50 minutes ago

Associated Press

Gold bars and Sen. Bob Menendez’s curiosity about their price takes central role at bribery trial

NEW YORK (AP) — Prosecutors showed jurors at Sen. Bob Menendez ’s trial on Thursday multiple instances when he researched the value of gold as he tried to help a New Jersey businessman who authorities say bribed him with gold and cash. The evidence about the Democrat’s online searches was prominently displayed to a New […]

1 hour ago

Associated Press

Bill allowing doctor-assisted suicide in Delaware fails in Senate

DOVER, Del. (AP) — A bill allowing doctor-assisted suicide in Delaware failed to win approval in the state Senate on Thursday after narrowly clearing the House earlier this year, but it could come back next week. The legislation failed in the Democrat-led Senate in a 9-9 tie after three members of the Democratic caucus spoke […]

2 hours ago

Associated Press

Amtrak trains suspended from Philadelphia to New Haven by circuit breaker malfunction

NEW YORK (AP) — Amtrak trains were temporarily suspended Thursday afternoon from Philadelphia to New Haven, Connecticut, by a circuit breaker malfunction, the national rail service said. The technical issue led to a widespread loss of power on the tracks between Penn Station in New York City and Union Station in Newark, New Jersey at […]

4 hours ago

Associated Press

Witnesses say Ohio man demanded Jeep before he stabbed couple at a Nebraska interstate rest area

GRAND ISLAND, Neb. (AP) — Witnesses say they heard an Ohio man demand the keys to a Jeep that was being towed behind a Missouri couple’s RV before he brutally stabbed them both and killed the man at an Interstate 80 rest area. James Thompson Jr., 22, was formally charged with first-degree murder and 10 […]

4 hours ago

Associated Press

FBI raids homes in Oakland, California, including one belonging to the city’s mayor

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Federal authorities raided a home belonging to Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao early Thursday as part of a California investigation that included a search of at least two other houses, officials said. FBI agents carried boxes out of 80 Maiden Lane, a four-bedroom home that property records link to the first-term mayor, […]

4 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Sanderson Ford

3 new rides for 3 new road trips in Arizona

It's time for the Sanderson Ford Memorial Day sale with the Mighty Fine 69 Anniversary, as Sanderson Ford turned 69 years old in May.

...

Collins Comfort Masters

Here’s how to be worry-free when your A/C goes out in the middle of summer

PHOENIX -- As Arizona approaches another hot summer, Phoenix residents are likely to spend more time indoors.

...

DISC Desert Institute for Spine Care

Sciatica pain is treatable but surgery may be required

Sciatica pain is one of the most common ailments a person can face, and if not taken seriously, it could become one of the most harmful.

Philly sheriff’s campaign takes down bogus ‘news’ stories posted to site that were generated by AI