Brazilian city enacts an ordinance that was secretly written by ChatGPT

Category : Technology/Innovations

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. enact / ɛnˈækt / (v.) – to make a proposed law become official

    The government enacted a policy that would address climate change.

  2. ordinance / ˈɔr dn əns / (n.) – a law or rule made by a government or authority

    The city council passed an ordinance to limit noise after 10 p.m.

  3. craft / kræft / (v.) – to make or produce something in a skilled way

    The mayor has to craft a speech for the opening ceremony of the new hospital.

  4. run the risk / rʌn ðə rɪsk / (idiom) – to do something even if something bad might happen because of it

    They don’t want to run the risk of missing their flight by leaving for the airport too late.

  5. momentous / moʊˈmɛn təs / (adj.) – very important or having great importance

    His discovery of a new species is a momentous achievement in his career as a scientist.


Read the text below.

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 Rosário revealed that it was written by a chatbot, sparking objections and raising questions about the role of artificial intelligence in public policy.

Rosário 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 unprecedented origin.

“If I had revealed it before, the proposal certainly wouldn’t even have been taken to a vote,” Rosário told the AP by phone. 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 added.

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 Rosário had enlisted ChatGPT to write the proposal when the councilman bragged about the achievement on social media. 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.

In an article published on the website of Harvard Law School’s Center of Legal Profession earlier last 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.

This article was provided by The Associated Press.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

  • Do you think the council members’ decision to approve the ordinance would have been affected if they had known that AI was used to write it? Why or why not? Discuss.
  • If you were one of the council members and you knew that the proposed ordinance was crafted by an AI tool, would you have approved of it? Why or why not? Discuss.

Discussion B

  • In your opinion, should lawmakers let their fellow lawmakers and the people know if the law they’re proposing was written with the help of AI tools? Why or why not? Discuss.
  • Would you ever consider using an AI tool, such as ChatGPT, on important documents? Why or why not? Discuss.
Category : Technology/Innovations