Ukraine Wants Access to ChatGPT

In addition to Ukraine, ChatGPT is currently unavailable in China, Russia, Afghanistan, Belarus, Venezuela, and Iran.
Screenshot from Twitter Acco@FedorovMykhailo

The vice prime minister of Ukraine wants access to ChatGPT, the machine learning-powered chatbot from OpenAI that can generate advanced writing based on different prompts that a user enters, from fairytales to speeches. 

On Friday, Mykhailo Fedorov tweeted, “Would like to appeal to ChatGPT team, @OpenAI to open your software for Ukraine. We are excited how develops AI tools. Ukrainians are tech-savy, cool & ready to test innovations now. Personally me will use your tool to make my twitter account great again. Sounds like a deal?”


In addition to Ukraine, ChatGPT is currently unavailable in China, Russia, Afghanistan, Belarus, Venezuela, and Iran, according to a Ukrainian blog called Mezha Media. On OpenAI’s list of supported countries, none of the aforementioned countries are mentioned. Though OpenAI has never explicitly stated its reasoning behind these bans, it is likely a response to regions currently in conflict or under sanctions.

“While we would like to make our technology available everywhere, conditions in certain countries make it difficult or impossible for us to do so in a way that is consistent with our mission. We are currently working to increase the number of locations where we can provide safe and beneficial access to our tools,” a spokesperson from OpenAI told Motherboard.

People online have been trying to get a response from OpenAI in regard to this geo-block. A user on OpenAI’s forum using the username “boldfrontiers” said that the keyword “Ukraine” was also banned last August on the platform’s text-to-image tool, DALL-E: “I got a warning recently after using the word Ukraine in a text prompt. Kind of understand why as the country is associated with war these days, but my intention was to render a portrait of a Ukrainian person which has nothing to do with the war. This after using country names like America / United States, Canada, France, England, Wales, Italy, etc. with absolutely no issues.” 

The ban on Ukraine-related prompts was eventually lifted. The same user later said they received an email from a Ukrainian person, who asked them to raise awareness of the fact that Ukrainian users can't access the platform altogether. Boldfrontiers pointed out that blocking Ukraine from Dall-E access contradicts OpenAI investor Microsoft’s support for Ukraine, as it announced in November that it would extend all technology support free of charge for Ukraine throughout 2023.

After ChatGPT launched its chatbot using the GPT-3 model in December, it quickly grew in popularity, with Open AI founder Sam Altman tweeting, “there is a lot more demand for ChatGPT than we expected; we are working to add more capacity.” The chatbot has since been used for a number of purposes, from negotiating down internet bills to being integrated as part of Microsoft’s Bing search engine.

Despite Altman’s warning that ChatGPT is limited and cannot be relied on for anything important, many people are nevertheless excited about the bot’s potential, leading OpenAI to develop a monetized version that began piloting this week. 

Many Ukrainian citizens have echoed Fedorov’s appeal to OpenAI to gain access to ChatGPT. The Editor-in-Chief of Mezha Media wrote, “Unfortunately, users and developers from Ukraine cannot test the possibilities of ChatGPT because, for unknown reasons, OpenAI closed Ukrainians’ access to the GPT-3 API, on which the new chatbot works. The organization placed Ukraine on the same list as terrorist countries such as russia and Iran. We hope that this will gain wide publicity and OpenAI will change its position regarding users from Ukraine.”