What I’m Reading: The courage to be disliked, by Ichiro Kishimi and Fumitake Koga
What I’m eating: Taizu is an amazing place. If you’re ever in Tel Aviv, try it and you won’t be disappointed. Unfortunately for me, they just opened a pop-up restaurant near our office.
What I’m Watching: The Wire. Yes… again. It’s a priceless show about… local government and law enforcement. There’s a plot there, too 🙂
Seems like everyone is talking about ChatGPT nowadays. It’s the hot new buzzword, and the source for anything from delighting examples of writing rhymed poems about any topic, to people worried it’s the harbinger of doom.
GPT, or Generative Pre-trained Transformer, is a machine that generates human-like text based on a given text. GPT is pre-trained on vast amounts of data to develop a comprehensive understanding of language patterns and structures, enabling it to generate coherent and contextually relevant responses that are mostly accurate but not always. However, it is surprisingly good at things like summarizing text and data tables, supplying human-like answers to casual questions in a chat, and even describing images and can even pass the LSAT exam for you. There have been a few versions of GPT out there, and the most advanced version that exists at the time of writing is GPT version 4, or GPT-4.
So what’s all of this GPT buzz have to do with local government?
If there’s one sentence I’ve been hearing frequently from my local government colleagues, it is that they’re always strapped for time and missing one more person on their team.
I can think of multiple things GPT can do that’ll save hours, if not days, of local government employees, when applied to tasks it excels in:
- Internal communication – GPT can be used to draft emails, memos, and other internal communications to streamline collaboration among local government employees and departments.
- Writing drafts of speeches – I’ve heard of a few examples where GPT was used to create a skeleton for a “State of the City” address, using a few ideas “fed” to the model about the passing year.
- Drafting official announcements such as press releases and public service announcements, saving hours of time and making sure one will never start from an empty page.
- Writing grant proposals for various funding opportunities, ensuring that the proposals are well-written and meet specific requirements.
- Responding to citizen inquiries: with some fine-tuning, GPT can help answer common questions from citizens regarding city services, regulations, and events through chatbots or email assistance.
- Simplifying complex texts like ordinances and regulations and explaining them in a language that laypersons can understand
- Summarizing meetings and highlighting key action items, and even tables of numerical data!
Those are just some examples that I’m sure will be explored by local governments soon, and represent real, measurable productivity boosts. I project that entire roles (specifically those requiring frequent communication) will be transformed by GPT and will become “hyper productive” by being able to communicate and respond quicker and do much more with the same amount of hours by having a virtual assistant.
The not-so-fine print
Now, all this does not come without some caveats. Some configurations of GPT store data you entered, so inputting private information is a bad idea. Furthermore, there may be copyright issues with the text it generates, although simple use cases are probably less worrisome. And of course, it can provide inaccurate facts and responses, also known as hallucination. Like every new technology, this one has hiccups.
So what can you do to benefit from the abilities but not get into trouble? Remember that it’s essential to verify the accuracy and appropriateness of the generated content before using it in official communications or documents, and stick to simple use cases.
Bottom line – it’s just the beginning
I really think that GPT is a transformative technology, resembling technologies like the Web and mobile phones that have changed our lives forever.
I’m really optimistic about GPT helping local governments to become much more productive, and perhaps offer new or improved services in new and exciting ways, and I’m even witnessing a few brave local government leaders actively looking to incorporate AI into their processes.
Are you interested in harnessing the power of GPT?
Want to know what we are trying to use it for? Don’t hesitate to reach out!