The vice prime minister of Ukraine would like access to ChatGPT. Mykhailo Fedorov tweeted Friday, “Would love to appeal to ChatGPT, @OpenAI, to open your software for Ukraine. We are thrilled to see how AI tools are developed. Ukrainians are tech-savvy, creative, and ready to try out innovations. Your tool will make my Twitter account even better. Sounds like a deal?”
According to reporters, ChatGPT is not available in Ukraine. In addition, China, Russia, Afghanistan, Belarus, Venezuela, and Iran don’t have access to this software. OpenAI has not explicitly stated the reasons behind these bans. Still, they may be a response to current conflicts or regions under sanctions.
“While we wish to make our technology accessible everywhere, certain conditions make it difficult or impossible to do so in a manner consistent with the mission of OpenAI. OpenAI spokesperson told reporters that they are working on expanding the locations where our tools can be accessed safely and more efficiently.
OpenAI has been trying to respond to people online about this geo-block. OpenAI’s forum user “bold frontiers” stated that the keyword “Ukraine” was also banned last august on the platform’s text-to-image tool, DALL–E. “I received a warning after I used the word Ukraine in an email prompt. I can understand why the country is associated these days with war. Still, my intention was not to render a portrait of a Ukrainian person. After using country names such as America, Canada, France, England, Wales, Italy, etc., with absolutely no problems.”
The ban on prompts related to Ukraine was lifted eventually. Later, the same user claimed they received an email asking them to spread awareness that Ukrainian users cannot access the platform. Boldfrontiers pointed out that blocking Ukraine from Dall E access is contrary to OpenAI investor Microsoft’s support for Ukraine. In November, Microsoft announced that it would provide all technical support for Ukraine for free through 2023.
Many Ukrainian citizens have echoed Fedorov’s call to OpenAI for ChatGPT access. Reporters said that “Unfortunately, users from Ukraine and developers from Ukraine can not test the potential of ChatGPT” because OpenAI had closed access to the GPT-3 API on which the chatbot operates. We hope this will be widely publicized and OpenAI will alter its position on users from Ukraine.