An artifical intelligence (AI) chatbot has seen a recent surge in popularity and advancements but the Oxford Mail wanted to know how much it knows about our city. 

ChatGPT is a text-based form of AI that will give an answer to any question you pose.

Concerns have been raised that this is the future of essay writing in schools and universities.

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So, I thought I would give ChatGPT a try to see what it can come up with when it comes to news stories about Oxford.

To start, I decided to give the AI platform a very general request.

I asked it to write a breaking news story about Oxford.

ChatGPT decided to write an article with the headline ‘Oxford aims for net-zero.’

The piece was all about the University of Oxford revealing plans to become the world’s first net-zero carbon university by 2035.

It read: “To achieve its target, Oxford plans to invest heavily in renewable energy sources, such as solar and wind power, and reduce energy consumption across its campus.

Herald Series: ChatGPT's breaking news article about OxfordChatGPT's breaking news article about Oxford (Image: Chat GPT)

“The university will also partner with organisations working on reforestation and other nature-based solutions to offset its remaining carbon emissions.”

It even included a made-up quote from prominent climate activist Greta Thunberg.

This was not a story that I had come across in today’s news, so I gave it a Google.

The best related thing I could find was a press release from March 2021 which explained how Oxford University’s Council had voted in favour of adopting an Environmental Sustainability Strategy to get the University to net zero carbon and biodiversity net gain by 2035.

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Therefore, this was clearly a news story, but it didn’t sound like a ‘breaking’ one to me.

I then asked ChatGPT to write a story about a more specific topic.

I requested it to write one about the LTNs in the city.

Herald Series: I asked ChatGPT to write a news article about LTNsI asked ChatGPT to write a news article about LTNs (Image: Chat GPT)

The bot began the article with the statement that LTNs were a ‘hotly debated’ topic.

It then went on to suggest that they had been ‘implemented’ by Oxford City Council.

Although the city council are responsible for maintenance of the bollards, the LTNS are actually an Oxfordshire County Council project.

The article read: “Supporters of LTNs argue that they create safer, quieter, and more pleasant streets for pedestrians and cyclists, while opponents argue that they create traffic congestion and inconvenience for motorists.

“Since the implementation of LTNs, the council has reported a reduction in traffic volumes, increased use of active transportation, and improvements in air quality.

Herald Series:

“However, the council has also faced criticism from some residents and business owners who say the LTNs have negatively impacted their daily routines and access to their properties.”

It then included a ‘made-up’ quote from real life councillor Tom Hayes.

The articles written by ChatGPT are certainly well written and contain almost perfect spelling and grammar.

But I’m not convinced the articles are based on accurate facts and I wouldn’t trust the quotes that it comes up with.

Therefore, I’ll be sticking with ‘old-school journalism’.