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AI Drafts Law in Brazil: A First in Legal Innovation and Controversy

In an unconventional and contentious move, Porto Alegre, a city in southern Brazil, has enacted what is believed to be the nation’s first ordinance entirely authored by artificial intelligence. City Councilman Ramiro Rosário revealed this week that the legislation, passed in October, was written by OpenAI’s ChatGPT chatbot. This revelation has stirred significant debate about the role of AI in public policy-making.

The Concealed AI Contribution

Rosário used ChatGPT to draft a proposal aimed at preventing the city from charging taxpayers for replacing stolen water consumption meters. He presented it to the 36-member council without altering a single word and without disclosing its AI-generated nature. The proposal was unanimously approved and went into effect on November 23.

Explaining his decision to conceal AI’s role, Rosário stated, “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.”

Global Debate and Legal Concerns

The emergence of ChatGPT has fueled a global debate on AI’s potential benefits and risks. AI chatbots, powered by large language models, are capable of generating impressive text outputs but are also prone to producing false information, a phenomenon known as “hallucination.”

Research by tech company Vectara shows that chatbots can introduce inaccuracies, with error rates varying significantly across different models. The legal community remains cautious. Andrew Perlman, Dean at Suffolk University Law School, highlighted ChatGPT’s potential impact, comparing it to the advent of the internet. However, he warned of its limitations in understanding the complexities of legal principles.

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The Transparency Debate

The lack of transparency in Rosário’s approach has sparked criticism. Porto Alegre’s Council President Hamilton Sossmeier initially criticized the move as a “dangerous precedent.” In contrast, in Massachusetts, Democratic State Sen. Barry Finegold, who used ChatGPT to draft AI regulation legislation, emphasizes the importance of transparency when employing AI in lawmaking.

Rosário’s Motive and the Future of AI in Legislation

Rosário’s secretive use of AI was intended to spark debate and demonstrate AI’s potential for public good. He argues for a balanced view of technological tools, which can be used for both positive and negative purposes.

As for the future of AI in lawmaking, opinions are evolving. Sossmeier, who initially opposed Rosário’s method, now acknowledges the inevitable trend of AI’s role in drafting legislation.

Conclusion

The Porto Alegre case marks a significant milestone in AI’s integration into legal processes, highlighting the delicate balance between innovation, ethics, and transparency. While AI holds promise for streamlining legislative drafting, it raises critical questions about the future of policy-making in an increasingly automated world. As lawmakers and regulators grapple with these challenges, the Porto Alegre incident serves as a catalyst for a broader discussion on the prudent and ethical use of AI in governance.

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