OpenAI CEO ‘feels awful’ about ChatGPT leaking conversations

OpenAI CEO Sam Altman feels “awful” about ChatGPT leaking some users’ chat histories on Monday, and blamed an open source library bug for the snafu.

In a couple of tweets, Altman admitted the flaw, which allowed some users to see snippets of others’ conversations — not the full contents, but recent titles – with the question-and-response bot.

“We had a significant issue in ChatGPT due to a bug in an open source library, for which a fix has now been released and we have just finished validating,” Altman said.

“A small percentage of users were able to see the titles of other users’ conversation history. We feel awful about this.”

Because of the buggy code, ChatGPT users won’t be able to access most of their March 20 conversations, he added.  

OpenAI also plans to follow up with a technical postmortem about the privacy breach, according to Altman. The formerly non-profit biz did not respond to The Register‘s inquiries about which open-source library contained the buggy code, and how many users were affected.

There’s no word yet on when the fix will be released and when the postmortem will publish, either.

While users are understandably peeved about the conversation leaks, Kaspersky’s lead data scientist told The Register that ChatGPT users should read the small print — and forget any illusion of privacy.

“ChatGPT warns on login that ‘conversations may be reviewed by our AI trainers,'” Vlad Tushkanov said, noting that the web demo and the API for businesses use different interfaces. “So from the very beginning the users should have had zero expectation of privacy when using the ChatGPT web demo.”

Kaspersky has the following advice, he added: “Treat any interaction with a chatbot (or any other service, for that matter) as a conversation with a complete stranger. You don’t know where the content will end up, so refrain from revealing any personal or sensitive information about yourself or other people.”

Meanwhile, look at the new toys!

On Thursday OpenAI announced the rollout of ChatGPT plugins to connect the chatbot to third-party apps, thus allowing the chatbot to do things like order food via Instacart on behalf of the users or book a flight on Expedia. 

The plugins also allow ChatGPT to access real-time information, like stock prices and sports scores, or company documents stored on your device — if you trust the chatbot with those.

“You can install plugins to help with a wide variety of tasks,” Altman tweeted. “We are excited to see what developers create!”

No doubt, the data thieves are, too. ®