Generative AI technologies in general, and ChatGPT from OpenAI specifically, has created much excitement since its consumer launch in November 2022. I wanted to explore how ChatGPT’s LLM (Large Language Model) would respond to a question about Oak Park. It took me all of 30 seconds for this.

ChatGPT Prompt: What are the top three priorities for Oak Park, Illinois?

ChatGPT Response: As a large and diverse community, Oak Park, Illinois has many priorities that are important to different groups of people. However, based on recent discussions and initiatives, some of the top priorities for the community currently include:

1.    Addressing issues of racial equity: Like many communities across the United States, Oak Park is grappling with the ongoing impacts of systemic racism. In response, the village has launched several initiatives aimed at promoting equity, including creating a racial equity commission and investing in programs that aim to reduce disparities in education, housing, and other areas.

2.    Ensuring fiscal sustainability: Oak Park is facing financial challenges, including a recent property tax reassessment and ongoing pension obligations. To ensure that the village can continue to provide essential services and maintain its high quality of life, leaders are focusing on developing long-term financial plans and exploring new revenue sources.

3.    Supporting economic development: Oak Park has a strong local economy, but leaders are committed to ensuring that the community remains an attractive destination for businesses and residents. This includes investing in infrastructure, promoting entrepreneurship and innovation, and prioritizing sustainable growth that benefits all residents.

Of course, there are many other important priorities for the community, including addressing climate change, improving transportation options, and promoting affordable housing. However, these three priorities reflect some of the key challenges and opportunities facing Oak Park today.           

Perhaps it writes at a middle-school level and the response is fairly generic. I would have liked to see more facts supporting the response, but as a nascent technology, one cannot help being impressed. It will only get better as it gets trained with more and better data. Targeted training of ChatGPT and other specialized LLMs are already enabling other applications, e.g. generating travel itineraries and paralegal services where they could be powerful co-pilots improving human efficiency and productivity.

Its implications are exciting but the unknown directions that it’s already starting to evolve beyond its creators’ comprehension makes it at least a little scary.

What do you think?

Ravi Parakkat
Oak Park village trustee

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