ChatGPT falsely accuses law professor of sexual harassment

Occurred: April 2023

George Washington university law professor Jonathan Turley was falsely accused by ChatGPT of sexually assaulting students on educational trips to Alaska. 

ChatGPT had been asked by UCLA's Eugene Volokh to describe scandals involving American law professors being accused of sexual harassment and to cite media sources. To support its case, the model cited a non-existent Washington Post article. The accusation was later repeated by Microsoft's Bing GPT-4-powered search chat.

However, in an USA Today editorial Jonathan Turley said he had never been to Alaska with students, the Post article never existed, and he had 'never been accused of sexual harassment or assault by anyone.'

The incident prompted commentators to question the accuracy and reliability of ChatGPT, and its ability to produce misinformation and disinformation. It also prompted legal experts to discuss the benefits and risks of using defamation as a defence against inaccurate and damaging accusations made by systems like ChatGPT. 

Operator: OpenAI; Microsoft
Developer: OpenAI; Microsoft

Country: USA

Sector: Multiple; Research/academia

Purpose: Provide information, communicate

Technology: Chatbot; NLP/text analysis; Neural network; Deep learning; Machine learning; Reinforcement learning
Issue: Accuracy/reliability; Defamation; Mis/disinformation

Transparency: Governance; Black box

Page info
Type: Incident
Published: April 2023
Last updated: November 2023