ChatGPT is the tip of the iceberg: Céline Castets-Renard leads us into an AI-powered future

Faculty of Law - Civil Law Section
Faculty member
Book launch
Artificial Intelligence
Research and innovation
Céline Castets-Renard
ChatGPT is giving us a glimpse of the future of artificial intelligence. It’s a future filled with great promise, but also significant challenges. Professor Céline Castets-Renard is at the forefront of research on the ethical aspects of these AI-powered technologies, generating globally-relevant insights to help guide us through the social changes AI is provoking.

Deployed in November 2022 and ever-present in the news cycle since, ChatGPT is an AI-powered language system that can solve math problems, correct grammar and even write poems. But is the technology behind this tool something to be embraced or feared?

Claire Boine, a PhD candidate at the Faculty of Law, and Professor Castets-Renard, who holds the University Research Chair (URC) on Accountable AI in a Global Context, recently authored an article for The Conversation entitled “ChatGPT : le plagiat n’est que l’arbre qui cache la forêt” (“ChatGPT: Plagiarism is the tree that hides the forest”), which directly addresses some of the concerns that have accompanied the rapid rise and deployment of this seemingly-revolutionary new AI tool.

The authors suggest that the recent emergence of language systems like ChatGPT is only the tip of the iceberg. While debates are raging about the effect of language-generating AI systems on things like student essays, Ms. Boine and Professor Castets-Renard propose that a focus on the threat of plagiarism is missing the point. These systems hold the potential to change the way we work across countless sectors. Instead of keeping students from using ChatGPT altogether, we should be ensuring that they know how to assess such systems critically and ultimately learn to use them responsibly.

The full article is available on The Conversation (in French) and an English translation of the article is available via the uOttawa Gazette. And you can read more about Claire Boine, who works on cutting-edge topics in AI law such as General Purpose AI systems, AI-enabled manipulation, emotional attachment to AI systems, and technologies that disproportionately impact women.

The recent article on ChatGPT is exemplary of the ongoing work Professor Castets-Renard is doing on the ethics of AI-based technologies. Her URC research program on responsible AI on a global scale aims to explore how legal research can play a key role in advancing knowledge related to the societal challenges caused by artificial intelligence. She is currently organizing a series of activities designed to kickstart the creation of an international network of AI experts that can share information and best practices and subsequently support legislative efforts to regulate AI around the globe. Her team is planning an international colloquium, set to take place on May 24-25, 2023 at the uOttawa Faculty of Law, that will bring together emerging and established researchers in the field. This will be followed by an AI-focused summer school for students from Canada and France, a poster competition for students at uOttawa, a lecture for the general public at an Ottawa public library, and the creation and distribution of an educational video to share the research results and contributions from the May colloquium.

Professor Castets-Renard is also set to launch a new seminal publication that will offer a framework for structuring the emerging field of artificial intelligence law: Un droit de l’intelligence artificielle : entre règles sectorielles et régime general. The publication will be launched on the week of March 13 in French, with an English version, Artificial Intelligence Law : Between sectoral rules and general regime, to follow later in the month. Reflecting Professor Castets-Renard’s peerless international reputation in the field, the book unites 40 authors from different parts of the world to compare legal approaches to AI technologies and shed light on different social, cultural and historical concerns. These perspectives raise important considerations that might impact attempts to draw up legislation that can meaningfully regulate the ever-evolving world of AI technology. The book is set to become the leading international reference point in the field.