Local governments welcome ChatGPT

Local governments in Japan are embracing ChatGPT, the generative AI chatbot developed by US venture firm OpenAI.

Yokosuka, a city south of Tokyo, has become the first to implement the language model in all of its offices on an experimental basis.

Civil servants watch a demonstration of how to use ChatGPT on April 20, 2023.

All of the city's roughly 4,000 employees are being encouraged to use ChatGPT for tasks such as creating minutes of meetings and drafting policy proposals. The city bans employees from entering any personal or classified information into the chatbot.

Officials there say they will run a month-long trial to assess how easy it is to use and whether it can save the city money. They say they used ChatGPT to create the press release announcing the trial, and it took them about half time they usually spend on such a task.

Yokosuka Mayor Kamiji Katsuaki told reporters at a news conference, "We need to use AI more widely to improve our services for residents."

Local mascot gets ChatGPT upgrade

The prefecture of Ibaraki has also opened its arms to ChatGPT. It uses a virtual YouTuber called Ibara Hiyori to promote tourism and local products.

Virtual YouTuber, Ibara Hiyori

Now, the character can converse with people, in Ibaraki dialect, via a program that uses ChatGPT.

Prefectural tourism officials say they hope to position Ibaraki as a prefecture that is fast to adopt new technology.

Concerns about ChatGPT

City leaders are asking workers not to use ChatGPT as a search engine due to concerns about the accuracy of its output.

When a Yokosuka official asked the chatbot what the city's population is, it gave the answer as "425,000 as of September 2021". The correct figure was 385,000.

Yokosuka officials say they don't know why it got it wrong.

Accuracy is not the only concern. The rapid uptake of ChatGPT and other forms of generative AI has raised questions about how the data collected during interactions will be used. Developer OpenAI revised its terms of use in March to state that such data will not be used to improve AI's learning ability when the system is used in collaboration with another system.

But in late March, Italy announced a temporary ban on the use of ChatGPT. Germany and France are reported to be considering the same move.

G7 to discuss regulating AI

Japanese Prime Minister Kishida Fumio has reportedly said leaders at the G7 summit in Hiroshima next month will discuss establishing international rules for generative AI.

The G7 summit will be held in Hiroshima from May 19 to 21.

Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Matsuno Hirokazu said at a regular news conference on Thursday that he wants to discuss the principles of digital economic rules at the G7 summit.

Ahead of summit meeting, the digital and technology ministers of the G7 nations will meet in Gunma Prefecture to discuss the promotion and regulation of AI.

Artificial intelligence is expected to play a key role in a wide range of fields, including finance, medical care, and advertising.