Wunderman remains permitted to use ChatGPT’s application programming interface (API), which does not collect user data. But this model is less capable than the online version, and because it doesn’t process user data, its ability to learn is limited.
Bandini said the agency continues to use other generative AI tools, such as image generators DALL-E—also created by OpenAI, the company behind ChatGPT—and Midjourney. Image-to-text bots have been used by marketers to bring ideas to life. Yet they are not as well-rounded as ChatGPT, which is able to perform all kinds of clerical work in addition to creativity.
Related: AI and Midjourney lessons from a creative director
There are workarounds for Italian marketers who refuse to take no for an answer, said Bandini. PizzaGPT is an accessible platform created by a pseudonymous individual that is built on OpenAI’s GPT 3.5 technology, although its performance has apparently been patchy. The model gets its name from its request for donations equivalent to the price of a pizza.
Virtual private networks (VPNs) are another alternative, Bandini said, which allow users to hide their IP addresses and thus circumvent restrictions on their location. VPNs are commonly used for privacy and security purposes, and are entirely legal in Italy.
Related: AI copyright ruling could pose issues for agencies
What happens next?
OpenAI this week met with Italy’s data protection authority after OpenAI sent a letter expressing a willingness to find a solution, Reuters reported. If the ban lifts, Danilo Maurizio, head of data at Wunderman Thompson Italy, anticipates it will come with new limitations, such as restrictions on age and other mechanisms of gating access.
How, or whether, these concessions will affect Italian ad agencies remains unclear. There is also the potential for Italy’s decision to pose ramifications for other Western countries. Since the EU’s privacy framework, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), does not adequately address generative AI, other nations within the union may follow Italy’s move, said Maurizio.
“The [Italian] government said, ‘We must do something’—this is something,” he told Ad Age. Although Maurizio expressed optimism that the ban could impel more responsible adoption of AI tools, Maurizio stopped short of supporting its outright prohibition. He fears the emergence of an unregulated secondary market for large language models (LLMs) like ChatGPT if the bot is disallowed for too long.
Thierry Breton, the EU’s commissioner for internal market, has already made clear that the group is discussing new AI-focused rules. Britain, which is no longer a part of the EU, has asked regulators to apply existing policies to the AI space.
Talks of limiting AI’s reach have even cropped up in the U.S. Last month, a group of over 1,000 AI experts, including Elon Musk, issued an open letter that demanded a pause to the development of models more advanced than OpenAI’s GPT-4. While not the same as Italy’s action, the letter is a sign that limitations on the use of generative AI may already be in the works.