Authorship and ChatGPT: a Conservative View

Philos Technol. 2024;37(1):34. doi: 10.1007/s13347-024-00715-1. Epub 2024 Feb 26.

Abstract

Is ChatGPT an author? Given its capacity to generate something that reads like human-written text in response to prompts, it might seem natural to ascribe authorship to ChatGPT. However, we argue that ChatGPT is not an author. ChatGPT fails to meet the criteria of authorship because it lacks the ability to perform illocutionary speech acts such as promising or asserting, lacks the fitting mental states like knowledge, belief, or intention, and cannot take responsibility for the texts it produces. Three perspectives are compared: liberalism (which ascribes authorship to ChatGPT), conservatism (which denies ChatGPT's authorship for normative and metaphysical reasons), and moderatism (which treats ChatGPT as if it possesses authorship without committing to the existence of mental states like knowledge, belief, or intention). We conclude that conservatism provides a more nuanced understanding of authorship in AI than liberalism and moderatism, without denying the significant potential, influence, or utility of AI technologies such as ChatGPT.

Keywords: AI; Agency; Assertion; Authorship; ChatGPT; Conservativism; Intention; Normativity; Promising.