The government of Japan is exploring the use of AI technology like ChatGPT to improve administrative efficiency. A team has been formed to set rules and precautions to mitigate potential risks, including privacy breaches.
The Japanese government has set up a team to create a strategy for using artificial intelligence (AI) tools, such as ChatGPT, to improve administrative tasks’ efficiency while setting rules. The team has already held its first meeting with representatives from relevant ministries and agencies. The members agreed that generative AI would not be given access to sensitive information, and precautions would be taken against risks such as privacy breaches.
Generative AI is being considered for various applications, such as drafting responses ahead of parliamentary hearings or anticipating questions in news conferences.
“AI has entered a new phase,” said Hideki Murai, a special adviser to the prime minister and the head of the strategy team.
Murai elaborated that Japan aims to use AI in government while maintaining awareness of the risks and international context.
The Cabinet Office organised the meeting, including the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry; the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications; and the government’s digital affairs and private agencies. Some government bodies have been independently exploring the use of generative AI such as the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, which plans to use ChatGPT to update online instructions on filling out applications for certain services. The Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications will soon pilot using generative AI to streamline work.
However, concerns over safeguarding privacy and intellectual property have emerged since the advent of generative AI. Tottori Prefecture Governor Shinji Hirai has banned the use of ChatGPT in his administration, saying he will not delegate matters relating to local government decision-making to a machine. Hokkaido Prefecture Governor Naomichi Suzuki has also said that his government has no plans to use generative AI and that it must be handled cautiously.
The national strategy team will examine the potential of having private sector companies adopt AI. Other countries such as the US and China have already emerged as leaders in generative AI software. Microsoft-backed OpenAI, the company behind ChatGPT, Google, Baidu, and Alibaba Group Holding, have their own rival tools.
Besides ensuring that these tools can work with the Japanese language, experts have raised other concerns. Ichiro Satoh, a National Institute of Informatics professor, has called for standard rules on generative AI across government agencies.
He said, “If generative AI becomes integrated into existing applications, it may become impossible to distinguish where AI was involved with the work.”