Thursday, June 22, 2023

Beware of the A.I. Chatbots for Genealogy

There have been several genealogy blog articles about the Artificial Intelligence chatbots like Chat GPT, Google Bard and Bing AI in the recent past.  I have experimented a bit with them.

Lisa Louise Cooke just posted this YouTube video about "AI Chatbots and Genealogy" (I recommend that you watch the whole 24 minute video):

She reviewed the status of these chat bots, and tested them out, using her great-grandfather Gustaf Sporowski as a topic, asking "tell me about Gustaf Sporowski of California."  She got an answer - you can see the question and answer she received at the 21:05 mark of the video.  

I used the same question on Google Bard and received a different answer:
The answer to me is different from the answer to Lisa and both are different from Lisa's research on her ancestor.  Gustaf was not a mayor of San Diego according to Wikipedia.  

Why does the chat bot outright lie in an answer when it doesn't have the resources to find an answer?

I tried the question I've asked Google many times:  

"Who was the father of devier james lamphier born in 1839 in Lorraine NY?"

Um, I don't think so!  I searched the and 1850 census and found that there was no entry in the 1850 census for any Lamphier let alone my Devier or a father James.  

I asked "did you just make that up?" and got the response:
When challenged, the program says "...but my knowledge about this person is limited..."  Well, my knowledge about this person is not limited.  However, I still don't know who my 2nd great-grandfather's birth parents are.

Once you've challenged Bard on a specific family history person, you get the canned response above for another similar question.

You would think that Google Bard would check the same question on Google Search and might find specific information about a specific person in online published books, periodicals, blogs and other works, and provide links to specific sources like online family trees or publications.

I asked a number of other generic questions about genealogy and family history and learned that the Chua Vista Genealogical Society was started in 1972 and has about 200 members (um, actually 1987 and about 100 members).  It did offer the CVGS website as a source!

My advice is to not use any of the AI Chat bots to ask genealogy or family history questions about specific persons or families.  The search engines like Google Search and Bing Search do an adequate job of finding online material for most of our specific persons and families.

So - familia historicorum cave!


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1 comment:

Nomad said...

My comment is relating to the video by Lisa Cooke about her usage of ChatGPT. She does refer to it as Chat GBT... These AI bots only use the information they have been trained on! They are NOT search engines like Google. It all revolves around the PROMPT used. It's the old saying Garbage in, Garbage out... All information needs to be researched before going online to basically rubbish something new... Getting the name wrong from the start is a disaster in the making. Why would you use BARD to ask some research question... BARD is part of Google so to me it is a no-brainer which service one should be using!
Before everyone gets up in arms about AI, do your OWN research and not take things at face value. I use ChatGPT to assist with providing me with a DRAFT. It is NOT the end product. You still need to check what you are given and adjust accordingly. It WILL save hours of your time and assist with research outputs!
Please do YOUR homework before passing on information that is the incorrect usage of AI.