ChatGPT became a branch of digital governance in 2023?

Published on February 15, 2024

ChatGPT. AI. Change. New world order!

The buzz surrounding AI this year has been nothing short of deafening. The buzz, the excitement, the promises—it’s all been building up to what feels like a seismic shift in the world.

And it’s not merely a technological shift… it’s a complete restructuring of how we function as a society. Some celebrate it as the dawn of a new era, a redefined world, while others cautiously whisper about the prospects of a new world order.

With all the talk about AI, you might think it became as important as a branch of the government in 2023!

But let’s not forget that even though AI has come a long way, it still has a long way to go and earn people’s trust, especially from those making decisions and the public.

Putting doubts aside, AI has definitely improved how governments use technology in the past year. It shows where this well-funded and heavily promoted tool might be going in 2024.

While there’s lots of excitement, it’s essential to remember that AI is still growing and evolving. Its progress in government tech hints at what’s to come but doesn’t mean it’s a done deal just yet.

No tech leader dismisses the impact of AI

These days, it’s hard to find a government tech leader who doesn’t see the potential and impact of AI. A lot of what artificial intelligence has been doing in state and local governments lately revolves around generative AI, to be precise.

For those who don’t know, generative AI is a type of tech that learns from information and then creates words and pictures by itself. It spots patterns in data and uses those patterns to make things like sentences and images.

One way they’re using this AI in government is for writing things like press releases. For instance, a platform called Zencity made a tool that uses ChatGPT to write the first version of a press release.

(Zencity is a platform used by US counties, state agencies, and law enforcement organizations.)

The AI tool creates a communication that explains the basic details of the problem and how officials are handling it. It even includes a “quote” from the mayor. That quote might later be replaced with a(nother) statement from the actual mayor, and the release would likely be edited and revised by humans—like the Public Information Officer (PIO), city manager, or someone else involved.

Education, government budgeting and AI

AI is not just about government announcements. It can also be used in managing money, like when cities plan their budgets.

There’s a new AI tool made by a company called ClearGov, based in Massachusetts, that works with government budgets. This tool looks at past budgets and estimates for the future to create what officials call a “budget narrative.”

This narrative helps explain how money is spent, which is really important when officials need to convince others (voters, for example) that the budget is a good idea.

Using AI could make this whole process more efficient, especially since budgeting is often a tough and argumentative job for local and state governments.

In higher education, generative AI is also gaining traction.

It’s a handy tool that can assist with essays, math problems, and lesson plans, doing the work in just seconds. However, there’s some caution around its use due to concerns about plagiarism and other potential abuses. Some universities and colleges have even put restrictions on ChatGPT despite differing opinions among those who see its potential differently.

Final thoughts

It’s getting hard to think about the future of government technology without picturing a lot more artificial intelligence involved. Everywhere you look in the industry, there’s evidence of AI making its mark. It’s like AI is becoming an essential part of the whole system.

And it has the potential to make things run better, even though we’ve got to be careful about how we use it. Overall, it looks like AI is set to become a big part of how our government does its thing in the future.



About the Author

Mohammad J Sear is focused on bringing purpose to digital in government.

He has obtained his leadership training from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, USA and holds an MBA from the University of Leicester, UK.

After a successful 12+ years career in the UK government during the premiership of three Prime Ministers Margaret Thatcher, John Major and Tony Blair, Mohammad moved to the private sector and has now for 20+ years been advising government organizations in the UK, Middle East, Australasia and South Asia on strategic challenges and digital transformation.

He is currently working for Ernst & Young (EY) and leading the Digital Government practice efforts across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), and is also a Digital Government and Innovation lecturer at the Paris School of International Affairs, Sciences Po, France.

As a thought-leader some of the articles he has authored include: “Digital is great but exclusion isn’t – make data work for driving better digital inclusion” published in Harvard Business Review, “Holistic Digital Government” published in the MIT Technology Review, “Want To Make Citizens Happy – Put Experience First” published in Forbes Middle East.

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