AI Was Used To Address Housing Crisis — ‘Not So Intelligent’ Result Missed the Mark in 3 Ways

AI chatbot usage and concepts.
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Artificial intelligence, while still in its nascent stages, is being used in novel ways every day. From making work tasks more efficient to finding new ways to generate money, the technology is revolutionizing the way we live and work.

And now, New York Assembly Member Clyde Vanel has said he used AI to draft a bill that would address the housing crisis.

Assembly Bill 6896 included an AI disclosure, which noted that: “This bill and its memo were researched and written by artificial intelligence, with the accuracy and language reviewed and refined by humans.”

“We can’t be Luddites,” Vanel told The New York Times. “We have to understand these technologies, and figure out how these technologies can enhance what we do.”

Vanel used Auto-GPT, a similar tool to ChatGPT, to find gaps in the law, The New York Times noted.

As City & State added, the bill is straightforward and would require that renters be provided with a copy of their lease agreement when they submit a written request for it to their landlord.

Yet, several housing experts say the results are unclear.

Critics Say the AI Failed to Indicate What the Housing Crisis Is Actually About

Linda Rosenthal, a Democrat who chairs the Assembly Housing Committee, told The New York Times that she was unimpressed by the software’s contribution to the housing debate.

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“A.I. failed to identify and to reflect back what the housing crisis is all about,” Rosenthal told The New York Times. “It’s certainly not people clamoring to make their landlord, in the law, send them a copy of their lease.”

The AI Measure May Be Limited

James Fishman, a lawyer, told The New York Times the measure would only help in limited circumstances.

And because it says nothing about enforcement, Mr. Fishman noted, it would likely only benefit those whose landlords were willing to comply without being compelled to do so, according to The New York Times.

“It’s kind of like a homogenized view of New York landlord-tenant, without taking into account there’s so many nuances and gray areas,” he told The New York Times.

The AI Focused on a Low-Priority Issue

Ellen Davidson, a tenant attorney at New York’s nonprofit Legal Aid Society, said that the bill is addressing an issue “that seemingly nobody asked for,” per Fast Company.

While she added that it’s “a perfectly fine piece of drafting” on a textual level, “if you’re relying on the AI to think about what’s missing in landlord-tenant law in New York state, I don’t think they did a great job.”

According to Phil Siegel, founder of CAPTRS, this particular use of AI is a textbook example of “it’s all about the prompt”.

“AI is modeled and trained to mimic human intelligence. Imagine the difference between asking ‘Find a gap in a law’ vs. asking ‘Tenants report 10 concerns with landlords in NY,'” said Siegel. “The machine can consider all the data so is probably more likely to provide a sharper answer [than a human]. This still might not deliver something super valuable, but it will have a decent chance. In summary it’s all about the prompt and data you feed the model and tool, not just about the usefulness of the tool itself.”

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