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City in Brazil Implements First-Ever AI-Written Ordinance, Sparking Debate

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Lawmakers in Porto Alegre, Brazil, unknowingly passed what could be the country’s first legislation written entirely by artificial intelligence (AI). The experimental ordinance, introduced by city councilman Ramiro Rosário, sought to prevent taxpayers from bearing the burden of replacing stolen water consumption meters.

However, it was only revealed later that the proposal was crafted by OpenAI’s chatbot, ChatGPT. Despite objections and concerns surrounding AI’s role in public policy, the 36-member council unanimously approved the ordinance, which took effect on November 23.

Rosário admitted that had he disclosed the AI-generated origin of the proposal beforehand, it likely would not have received a proper vote. He emphasized the importance of fairness to the population, stating, “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.”

The emergence of ChatGPT, an AI-powered chatbot, has generated global discussions surrounding the potential impact of such revolutionary technology. While many view it as a promising tool, there are also concerns and anxieties about AI encroaching on tasks traditionally handled by humans.

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Porto Alegre, Brazil’s second-largest city with a population of 1.3 million, was initially alarmed when Council President Hamilton Sossmeier discovered that Rosário had employed ChatGPT to create the proposal.

Sossmeier considered it a “dangerous precedent.” He was worried because AI models, like ChatGPT, have a tendency to generate false information, which could be detrimental to policy-making.

Andrew Perlman, dean at Suffolk University Law School, highlighted the potential shortcomings of AI-generated content, particularly in the context of legal analysis.

While ChatGPT has the ability to aggregate and cite existing laws effectively, it may not possess the same level of understanding and judgment as a human lawyer, potentially leading to issues in nuanced legal situations.

Rosário’s use of ChatGPT is not the first instance of lawmakers testing the abilities of AI. In Massachusetts, Democratic state Sen. Barry Finegold enlisted ChatGPT to aid in drafting a bill to regulate AI models, although the bill is still awaiting a vote.

Finegold stressed the importance of transparency when utilizing AI tools in the legislative process.

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The lack of transparency surrounding Rosário’s proposal in Porto Alegre raised concerns among fellow council members. Sossmeier revealed that Rosário failed to inform them about the AI origin of the proposal.

However, Rosário defended his decision, noting that he aimed not only to resolve a local issue but also to spark a larger debate. He entered a prompt into ChatGPT, and within seconds, the chatbot returned a fully drafted proposal, including justifications.

Despite initially opposing the method, Sossmeier seems to have changed his perspective. Upon further examination, he now believes that AI-generated legislation will become a trend. He stated, “I started to read more in depth and saw that, unfortunately or fortunately, this is going to be a trend.”

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