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Geologists Raise Concerns Over Potential Chinese Censorship and Bias in GeoGPT

Geologists are voicing concerns about potential Chinese censorship and bias in GeoGPT, a new AI chatbot backed by the International Union of Geological Sciences (IUGS). Developed under the Deep-time Digital Earth (DDE) program, which is heavily funded by China, GeoGPT aims to assist geoscientists, particularly in developing countries, by providing access to extensive geological data. However, issues around transparency and censorship have been highlighted by experts, raising questions about the chatbot’s reliability.

Critics like Prof. Paul Cleverley have pointed out potential censorship and lack of transparency in GeoGPT’s responses. Although DDE representatives claim that the chatbot’s information is purely geoscientific and free from state influence, tests with its underlying AI, Qwen, developed by Alibaba, suggest that certain sensitive questions may be avoided or inadequately answered. This contrasts with responses from other AI models like ChatGPT, which provide more direct information on similar queries.

Further concerns are raised about the involvement of Chinese funding and the potential for biased data usage. Geoscientific research, which includes valuable information about natural resources, could be strategically filtered. Additionally, the terms of use for GeoGPT prohibit generating content that undermines national security or incites subversion, aligning with Chinese laws, which may influence the chatbot’s outputs.

IUGS president John Ludden has stated that GeoGPT’s database will be made public once appropriate governance is ensured. However, with the project being predominantly funded by Chinese sources, geoscientists remain skeptical about the impartiality and transparency of GeoGPT’s data and responses.

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