Goldman Sachs has said that artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning will have 100x more of an impact than the personal computer in terms of productivity and GDP growth.
But what does that mean for special districts? Districts are already stretched thin with time and resources. Is it worth learning about AI on top of everything else?
In our view, absolutely. there is much to gain—like automating and streamlining processes like Costa Mesa Sanitary has done with manhole inspections. AI can save time for general managers, board secretaries, board members, fire chiefs, and district staff at all levels. Whether it's helping you to write content like newsletters, project updates, or social media posts, analyze a budget, summarize a document, or write a poem about your district in less than 30 seconds, the capabilities are jaw-dropping. West Valley Fire-Rescue used AI to generate a newsletter in just a few minutes. 😲
But, there are also new concerns—from false content (also known as AI “hallucinations”) to AI biases and new cybersecurity threats.
Like many of you, we were enamored by ChatGPT (a popular AI tool that can write content), and we tried researching legislative requirements in a few states. The tool confidently made up some requirements that didn’t match the actual laws at all. It took a few additional prompts, but ChatGPT did eventually admit to not having the answers we were looking for. Unfortunately, language models like ChatGPT can’t accurately answer new questions and instead rely on reframing already-answered questions. Safe to say, we learned a valuable lesson!
Despite these potential risks, we hope districts feel empowered to use “supervised AI” to be more productive.
Here are a few important considerations to keep in mind when utilizing AI:
- As with any technology, AI holds the promise of enhanced efficiency
- It's crucial to approach AI-generated content with a healthy dose of skepticism–outputs can be inaccurate
- Your prompts could be subject to public records requests (more info coming soon!)
- Consider adopting a robust and transparent AI policy to safeguard your community's privacy (check out our AI resources for a sample policy)
- Education is the most effective defense against technological threats, and by reading this blog post, you are already taking steps in the right direction!
Are you using AI tools in your district? We would love to hear about it! Please share it with us at email@example.com.