Fri. Jul 19th, 2024

Susan Zhuang, a Democrat who will soon represent the 43rd Council District in Brooklyn, New York, admitted to using AI when answering questions from a local news publication, according to a report by the New York Post. In a text message sent to the Post, Zhuang wrote that she uses “AI as a tool to help foster deeper understanding” because English is not her first language.

The responses in question were included in an article from City & State, which asked local council member-elects to fill out a questionnaire about their personal interests and policies. However, the Post noticed something was off with Zhuang’s answer to the question, “What makes someone a New Yorker?”:

New York City, the concrete jungle where dreams come true. It’s not just a place, it’s a state of mind. Being a New Yorker means having an unstoppable hustle, unbreakable resilience and unrivaled independence. It’s about navigating the fast-paced streets with confidence and embracing the vibrant diversity that makes this city so special. Join a community of like-minded individuals who are proud to call themselves New Yorkers. Connect with people from all walks of life, sharing diverse cultures and backgrounds that contribute to the city’s dynamic tapestry. Experience the energy and excitement as you become part of something bigger than yourself.

The Post ran the text through Copyleaks, a tool that checks for plagiarism and AI-generated responses, and found that it may have been generated by AI. City & State has since added an editor’s note beneath Zhuang’s responses that says the council member-elect “admitted this response was written using artificial intelligence.”

It’s still unclear whether Zhuang used AI to answer all of City & State’s questions or just the response quoted above. “As an immigrant and Brooklyn’s first Chinese-American Councilwoman, I, like many of my fellow immigrants, use AI as a tool to help foster deeper understanding as well as for personal growth, particularly when English is not my primary language,” Zhuang tells the Post. The Verge reached out to Zhuang with a request for more information but didn’t immediately hear back.

As AI tools like ChatGPT become more widespread, we’re bound to see use ramp up among politicians and other officials. AI is already sparking concern ahead of the 2024 presidential election, leading a group of senators to push back against its use in political campaigns.

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