The Australian War Memorial has revealed it is using ChatGPT across its operations and some staff are experimenting with it for basic writing tasks, leading to concerns it could be used to help write about the nation's military history.
The revelation about the latest government use of the Microsoft-backed chatbot has come in an answer to a parliamentary question on notice, and comes as the Canberra landmark is under pressure to urgently remove the uniform, medals and images of Victoria Cross recipient Ben Roberts-Smith in light of his civil court loss on Thursday.
Several divisions of the Home Affairs department - including its refugee, humanitarian and settlement team, the data and economic analysis centre and in cyber security - also use the tool under supervision for "experimentation and learning" purposes.
There is no overarching government policy covering the use of artificial intelligence tools like ChatGPT, a situation criticised by Greens senator David Shoebridge.
"What we've seen in agency after agency is dangerous experimentation with ChatGPT because there is no overarching policy from the commonwealth government," he told The Canberra Times.
"Remarkably, the Australian Signals Directorate, which has more than $10 billion set aside for its REDSPICE project, has not put in place an advisory that even mentions ChatGPT or similar AI products.
"This leads to situations like the War Memorial experimenting with ChatGPT and potentially seeing ChatGPT writing Australia's military history."
The federal government has not issued a directive to the public service on the use of ChatGPT, but it is actively looking into "whether further policy is required". Until then, use is left to individual departments and agencies.
"The best time to put in place guardrails is before a bunch of high-profile agencies fall down the stairs," Senator Shoebridge said.
The Minister representing the Minister for Veterans' Affairs has advised the Australian War Memorial is using ChatGPT in an official work capacity.
"ChatGPT is integrated with the Microsoft Edge browser used across the Australian War Memorial, as part of the Standard Operating Environment. Some staff have explored ChatGPT's potential for forming a skeleton for basic writing tasks," the response reads.
"ChatGPT is not used for official work purposes within the Department of Veterans' Affairs (DVA). We do however note that some staff may have accessed ChatGPT informally to understand its capabilities."
The Minister was responding to a question from Senator Shoebridge, who has been asking all departments, agencies or ministerial offices about ChatGPT use.
The minister also advises that a risk assessment relating to access to this web-based application has commenced in the Department.
"The outcome of this assessment will inform any future access," the answer reads.
"DVA is not aware of any employees using ChatGPT for work purposes."
The Canberra Times has sought further responses about the use of ChatGPT, but it did not respond before publication.
Senator Shoebridge is among those asking for the Australian War Memorial to remove the Ben Roberts-Smith display as a "matter of urgency" following the Federal Court finding in a civil case that there was substantial evidence he committed war crimes, including murdering unarmed prisoners in Afghanistan.
The Australian War Memorial has stated it will not remove portraits of Mr Roberts-Smith, but it is considering adding additional content and context.
In a separate answer to a question on notice, there is advice that the Australian War Memorial's massive but significantly delayed $548.7 million upgrade is on track to complete works within the current budget.
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