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Italy’s New Tourism Ambassador is Botticelli’s Venus, Brought to Life by AI

It is probably safe to assume that Italian artist Sandro Botticelli never imagined Venus—the love goddess featured in his 15th-century masterpieces “The Birth of Venus” and “Primavera”—eating spaghetti or wearing shorts in front of the Roman Colosseum.

But a new marketing campaign by Italy’s tourism ministry has turned the ancient deity into a “virtual influencer”—with the help of artificial intelligence technology.

The campaign, called “Open to Wonder,” features Venus, dressed in modern-day designer clothing, taking selfies in St. Mark’s square, riding a bicycle in front of the Colosseum, and eating pizza on the shores of Lake Como.

“A Venus in the role of a modern influencer will lead every international visitor by the hand to discover our country,” the announcement from the Ministry of Tourism promises. “We welcome Botticelli’s iconic Venus, who lends her face to tell of our beauty, from the most famous big cities to the most hidden corners of Italy.”

The campaign, a collaboration between the tourism ministry and the National Tourism Agency, will feature on social media, with an animated Venus winking at her followers under the Instagram handle @venereitalia23.

ChatGPT could return to Italy if OpenAI complies with rules

ROME (AP) — ChatGPT could return to Italy soon if its maker, OpenAI, complies with measures to satisfy regulators who had imposed a temporary ban on the artificial intelligence software over privacy worries.

The Italian data protection authority on Wednesday outlined a raft of requirements that OpenAI will have to satisfy by April 30 for the the ban on AI chatbot to be lifted.

The watchdog known as Garante last month ordered the company to temporarily stop processing Italian users’ personal information while it investigated a possible data breach. The authority said it didn’t want to hamper AI’s development but emphasized the importance of following the European Union’s strict data privacy rules.

OpenAI, which had responded by proposing remedies to ease the concerns, on Wednesday welcomed the Italian regulators’ move.

“We are happy that the Italian Garante is reconsidering their decision and we look forward to working with them to make ChatGPT available to our customers in Italy again soon,” OpenAI said.

Concerns are growing about the artificial intelligence boom, with other countries, from France to Canada, investigating or looking closer at so-called generative AI technology like ChatGPT. The chatbot is “trained” on huge pools of data, including digital books and online writings, and able to generate text that mimics human writing styles.

Under Italy’s measures, OpenAI must post information on its website about how and why it processes the personal information of both users and non-users, as well as provide the option to correct or delete that data.

The company will have to rely on consent or “legitimate interest” to use personal data to train ChatGPT’s algorithms, the watchdog said.

The Italian regulators had questioned whether there’s a legal basis for OpenAI to collect massive amounts of data used to teach ChatGPT’s algorithms and raised concerns the system could sometimes generate false information about individuals.

San Francisco-based OpenAI also will have to carry out a publicity campaign by May 15 through radio and TV, newspapers and the internet to inform people about how it uses their personal data for training algorithms, Italy’s watchdog said.

There’s also a requirement to verify users’ ages and set up a system to filter out those who are under 13 and teens between 13 and 18 who don’t have parental consent.

“Only in that case will the Italian SA (supervisory authority) lift its order that placed a temporary limitation on the processing of Italian users’ data …. so that ChatGPT will be available once again from Italy,” the watchdog said on its website.

OpenAi’s ChatGPT Banned in Italy Over Privacy Concerns

Italy has become the first Western country to block artificial intelligence chatbot ChatGPT over data privacy concerns.

The Italian data-protection authority temporarily banned the chatbot as it investigated a possible violation of privacy rules.

Italy’s privacy watchdog, Garante, said it was taking provisional action “until ChatGPT respects privacy”, including temporarily limiting the company from processing Italian users’ data.

It questioned whether OpenAI had legal justification for its “massive collection and processing of personal data” used to train the platform’s algorithms.

The Italian regulator also accused OpenAI of failing to check the age of ChatGPT’s users, who are supposed to be aged 13 or above.

ChatGPT, created by US-start up Open AI and backed by Microsoft, is known for its ability to generate essays, songs, exams and news articles from brief prompts.

OpenAI said it had disabled ChatGPT for users in Italy following the government’s request.

Concerns grow about AI boom

The ban came just days after a group of more than 1000 artificial intelligence experts, including Tesla CEO Elon Musk, called for companies such as OpenAI to pause the development of AI models in an open letter that cited potential risks to society.

ChatGPT has set off a tech craze since its release in November last year, prompting rivals to launch similar products and companies to integrate it or similar technologies into their products.

Italy’s restriction affects the web version of ChatGPT, popularly used as a writing assistant.

Alp Toker, director of the advocacy group NetBlocks which monitors internet access worldwide, said Italy’s action was “the first nation-scale restriction of a mainstream AI platform by a democracy”.

The chatbot is also unavailable in mainland China, Hong Kong, Iran, Russia and parts of Africa where residents cannot create OpenAI accounts.

The Italian watchdog said OpenAI must report within 20 days what measures it has taken to ensure the privacy of users’ data or face a fine of up to either 20 million Euros ($32.5 million) or 4 per cent of annual global revenue.

The Italian regulator also said on March 20 that ChatGPT had experienced a data breach involving “users conversations” and subscriber payments.

AI regulation needed 

Experts said new regulations were needed to govern AI because of its potential impact on national security, jobs and education.

European consumer group BEUC last week called for EU authorities to investigate ChatGPT and similar AI chatbots. BEUC said it could be years before the EU’s AI legislation takes effect, so authorities need to act faster to protect consumers from possible risks.

“In only a few months, we have seen a massive take-up of ChatGPT, and this is only the beginning,” Deputy Director General Ursula Pachl said.

She said waiting for the EU’s AI Act, “which will happen years from now, is not good enough as there are serious concerns growing about how ChatGPT and similar chatbots might deceive and manipulate people”.

ChatGPT is estimated to have reached 100 million monthly active users in January, just two months after launch, making it the fastest-growing consumer application in history, according to a UBS study published last month.