Boston is not afraid of generative AI

After the ChatGPT explosion on the scene last November, some government officials were quick to ban its use. Italy banned the chatbot. School districts in New York City, Los Angeles Unified, Seattle, and Baltimore banned or blocked access to generative AI tools, fearing that ChatGPT, Bard, and other content-generating sites could tempt students to do cheat on assignments, induce rampant plagiarism, and deter criticism. thought. This week, the US Congress heard testimony from Sam Altman, CEO of OpenAI, and AI researcher Gary Marcus as he weighed whether and how to regulate the technology.

However, in a rapid turnaround, some governments are now taking a less fearful and more hands-on approach to AI. New York City Schools Chancellor David Banks announced yesterday that NYC is reversing its ban because “knock-on fear and risk overlooked the potential of generative AI to support students and teachers, as well as the reality that our students are engaging and will work in a world where understanding of generative AI is crucial. ” And yesterday, the director of information for the city of Boston, Santiago Garcés, sent guidelines to every city official encouraging that they begin to use generative AI “to understand its potential”. The City has also enabled the use of the Google Bard as part of the City of Boston’s company-wide use of Google Workspace for all public servants to have access.

The “responsible experimentation approach” adopted in Boston, the first policy of its kind in the US, could, if used as a model, revolutionize the use of AI by the public sector across the country and cause a sea ​​change in the way governments at all levels approach AI. By promoting further exploration of how AI can be used to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of government, and by focusing on how to use AI for governance rather than just how to govern AI, the Boston approach could help reduce scaremongering and focusing attention on how to use AI for social good.

Boston Politics Outlines various scenarios where public servants might want to use AI to improve the way they work, and even includes specific procedures for effective quick typing.

Generative AI, city officials were told in an email sent by the CIO to all city officials on May 18, is a great way to get started with memos, letters and job descriptions, and could help ease the burden of the overburdened public. officials

The tools can also help public servants “translate” government jargon and legalese into plain English, which can make important information about public services more accessible to residents. The policy explains that public servants can indicate the reading level or audience in the ad, allowing the AI ​​model to generate text suitable for elementary school students or specific audiences.

Generative AI can also help with translation into other languages ​​so that a city’s non-English speaking populations can enjoy easier and equitable access to information about policies and services that affect them.

City officials were also encouraged to use generative AI to summarize long snippets of text or audio into concise summaries, which could make it easier for government officials to engage in conversations with residents.


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