Japan to use ChatGPT as a tool in city government

ChatGPT has found a home in Japan. The city of Yokosuka has officially adopted the AI-powered chatbot after a trial showed it to improve operations and shorten business hours. The Tokyo Metropolitan Government has also announced it will also begin using ChatGPT in all of its offices from August. 

Yokosuka became the nation’s first local government to test out generative AI for administrative operations when 4,000 employees at the city’s municipal government office began using the chatbot as part of a one-month trial. 

During the trial, officials used ChatGPT to make bulletins, edit documents and summarise records of meetings. Notably, the city integrated it with LoGo chat, a local government chatbot service already being used by Yokosuka staff; serving as a possible blueprint in how ChatGPT could be built into government settings. 

The use of ChatGPT was shown to reduce labour costs. It was found that working hours can be reduced by at least about 10 minutes a day, the municipal government estimated. This is particularly significant in a country with a shrinking population on its hands. 

However, half of the staff surveyed  also said they were dissatisfied with the accuracy of responses given by ChatGPT. In response, the city said it plans to seek expert advice on how to create more effective prompts for the chatbot. 

Since ChatGPT burst onto the scene - the challenge has been getting the balance right between moving fast enough to reap the benefits while addressing security and ethical concerns around confidential information being fed to chatbots. 

The Yokosuka government has stated that it does not allow its officials to input personal information when using it. 

Japan’s enthusiasm to embrace generative AI comes as little surprise given the country’s progressive stance on this technology. In April this year, Japan’s Digital Minister Taro Kono said the use of generative AI would be “a great benefit at central government workplaces as long as learning data is handled carefully.”

This also comes amid a recent Japan trip by OpenAI CEO Sam Altman, where he hinted at setting up an office in the country.

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