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A Brazilian city councilor revealed that a law he had sponsored that came into effect last month was written using artificial intelligence, an unprecedented event in the country that has also launched a debate on the possibilities of automation, the Washington Post reported.

The municipality of Porto Alegre approved a law relieving citizens of the cost of replacing stolen water meters. Councilman Ramiro Rosário drafted it based on constituents’ complaints that they were forced to pay when their water meters were stolen, even though these items belonged to the city.

Rosário, who calls himself a tech enthusiast, admitted six days after the law passed that he had used ChatGPT to write it. The AI bot produced the draft in 15 seconds, including eight subsections and a justification.

He added that it provided two ideas he would not have thought of himself: to impose a deadline of 30 days on the city to replace the water meters, and if that failed to occur, to drop the requirement that property owners pay their water bills.

The bill only underwent minor changes before being presented to the city council, which unanimously voted in favor.

A week later, Rosário congratulated the passing of “the first Brazilian law made exclusively by artificial intelligence,” triggering mixed reactions. Among early critics was Council President Hamilton Sossmeier, who called it a “dangerous precedent.”

Rosário explained he purposefully withheld the information that the law was AI-created in the interest of the public good: He thought the bill was important and he wanted to avoid its defeat solely on the grounds that it was created by AI.

ChatGPT is a language model that predicts sentences based on information fed by humans, from sources such as Wikipedia, newspapers and scientific papers. Experts have warned that it makes mistakes and have advised that it be used with caution.

Rosário opined that this should not prevent the use of AI in lawmaking. Bills written and voted on entirely by humans have been declared unconstitutional in the past, he argued, while AI could allow better scrutiny in the drafting process.

Meanwhile, the Council President, though not a convert of the practice, came around enough to accept that “unfortunately or fortunately, this is going to be a trend.”

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