Ordinance Written by ChatGPT 12/01 06:55
RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) -- City lawmakers in Brazil have enacted what appears to
be the nation's first legislation written entirely by artificial intelligence
-- even if they didn't know it at the time.
The experimental ordinance was passed in October in the southern city of
Porto Alegre and city councilman Ramiro Rosrio revealed this week that it was
written by a chatbot, sparking objections and raising questions about the role
of artificial intelligence in public policy.
Rosrio told The Associated Press that he asked OpenAI's chatbot ChatGPT to
craft a proposal to prevent the city from charging taxpayers to replace water
consumption meters if they are stolen. He then presented it to his 35 peers on
the council without making a single change or even letting them know about its
"If I had revealed it before, the proposal certainly wouldn't even have been
taken to a vote," Rosrio told the AP by phone on Thursday. The 36-member
council approved it unanimously and the ordinance went into effect on Nov. 23.
"It would be unfair to the population to run the risk of the project not
being approved simply because it was written by artificial intelligence," he
The arrival of ChatGPT on the marketplace just a year ago has sparked a
global debate on the impacts of potentially revolutionary AI-powered chatbots.
While some see it as a promising tool, it has also caused concerns and anxiety
about the unintended or undesired impacts of a machine handling tasks currently
performed by humans.
Porto Alegre, with a population of 1.3 million, is the second-largest city
in Brazil's south. The city's council president, Hamilton Sossmeier, found out
that Rosrio had enlisted ChatGPT to write the proposal when the councilman
bragged about the achievement on social media on Wednesday. Sossmeier initially
told local media he thought it was a "dangerous precedent."
The AI large language models that power chatbots like ChatGPT work by
repeatedly trying to guess the next word in a sentence and are prone to making
up false information, a phenomenon sometimes called hallucination.
All chatbots sometimes introduce false information when summarizing a
document, ranging from about 3% of the time for the most advanced GPT model to
a rate of about 27% for one of Google's models, according to recently published
research by the tech company Vectara.
In an article published on the website of Harvard Law School's Center of
Legal Profession earlier this year, Andrew Perlman, dean at Suffolk University
Law School, wrote that ChatGPT "may portend an even more momentous shift than
the advent of the internet," but also warned of its potential shortcomings.
"It may not always be able to account for the nuances and complexities of
the law. Because ChatGPT is a machine learning system, it may not have the same
level of understanding and judgment as a human lawyer when it comes to
interpreting legal principles and precedent. This could lead to problems in
situations where a more in-depth legal analysis is required," Perlman wrote.
Porto Alegre's Rosrio wasn't the first lawmaker in the world to test
ChatGPT's abilities. Others have done so in a more limited capacity or with
less successful outcomes.
In Massachusetts, Democratic state Sen. Barry Finegold turned to ChatGPT to
help write a bill aimed at regulating artificial intelligence models, including
ChatGPT. Filed earlier this year, it has yet to be voted on.
Finegold said by phone on Wednesday that ChatGPT can help with some of the
more tedious elements of the lawmaking process, including correctly and quickly
searching and citing laws already on the books. However, it is critical that
everyone knows ChatGPT or a similar tool was used in the process, he added.
"We want work that is ChatGPT generated to be watermarked," he said, adding
that the use of artificial intelligence to help draft new laws is inevitable.
"I'm in favor of people using ChatGPT to write bills as long as it's clear."
There was no such transparency for Rosrio's proposal in Porto Alegre.
Sossmeier said Rosrio did not inform fellow council members that ChatGPT had
written the proposal.
Keeping the proposal's origin secret was intentional. Rosrio told the AP his
objective was not just to resolve a local issue, but also to spark a debate. He
said he entered a 49-word prompt into ChatGPT and it returned the full draft
proposal within seconds, including justifications.
"I am convinced that ... humanity will experience a new technological
revolution," he said. "All the tools we have developed as a civilization can be
used for evil and good. That's why we have to show how it can be used for good."
And the council president, who initially decried the method, already appears
to have been swayed.
"I changed my mind," Sossmeier said. "I started to read more in depth and
saw that, unfortunately or fortunately, this is going to be a trend."