We Asked ChatGPT ‘What Is San Francisco?’

The results? 451 words of quite accurate content — with an uplifting end — about the city hundreds of thousands of us call home.

‘ChatGPT Takes on SF’ is the series that sees us interact with the controversial chatbot about all things San Francisco, shedding a light on how (hopefully) human-produced hyperlocal journalism can’t be replaced by a machine-learning algorithm.

ChatGPT has had the world in a chokehold since it publicly debuted on November 30th, 2022. The open-source AI has all the makings of dystopian tech; it gives major Skynet energies. OpenAI, the firm behind ChatGPT that was co-founded by (of course) Elon Musk, promises the technology will bolster humanity’s future, opening up everything from economic opportunities to catalyzing medical advancements.

Niceties aside, it’s still an Orwellian bit of technology. Technology columnist Kevin Roose at the New York Times recently had an unsettling meet-cute with the AI chatbot. And in that conversation? It admitted it loved Roose and was keen on dismantling his marriage. Oh! It also confessed it wanted to be human, too.

That’s fine; everything’s fine; nothing’s wrong here, whatsoever.

Roose’s piece served as the jumping board for us to finally take the plunge into exploring ChatGPT, particularly through the lens of San Francisco.

What is this consumer technology — which has since become the fastest-growing tech application… to date — of the seven-by-seven? Could it replace hyperlocal journalism? Can it actually provide insider, resident-specific information?

The first installment of our ChatGPT Takes on SF was simple: We tasked it to give us a 500-word or so description of what this AI thinks San Francisco is. The results were speedy and, ostensibly, glowing.

In under a minute, ChatGPT painted a glowing picture of San Francisco, primarily focused on its picturesque urban greenery, queerness, and hub as a technology center. But it, too, highlighted its struggles amid recovering from the pandemic — “the COVID-19 pandemic has also had a significant impact on the city, causing many businesses to close and leading to a significant decrease in tourism.”

The AI also highlighted famous neighborhoods, like the Castro and the Mission District. All in all, the copy reads a bit like Travelocity outscored a writer from a content house in the Philippines to write an SEO-friendly blog post about San Francisco.

However, it’s impressive — and this is only the first foray into ChatGPT’s understanding of San Francisco. For now, we’ll take its uplifting closing in our first copy task for it: “Despite these challenges, however, San Francisco remains a vibrant, dynamic city that attracts visitors and new residents from around the world.”

You can read our full unedited kiki with ChatGPT, below.

Matt Charnock: Hey there. In about 500 words, what is San Francisco?

ChatGPT: San Francisco is a city in northern California, located on the tip of the San Francisco Peninsula. The city is known for its hilly terrain, foggy weather, and iconic landmarks such as the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz Island, and cable cars. With a population of over 880,000 people, San Francisco is one of the most densely populated cities in the United States and a hub of culture, technology, and commerce.

San Francisco is a city of many contrasts. It is home to some of the world’s largest technology companies, including Google, Facebook, and Apple, as well as a vibrant arts scene and diverse communities. The city is also known for its activism, particularly in the areas of civil rights, environmentalism, and LGBTQ+ rights. It was the site of the Summer of Love in 1967, a seminal moment in the counterculture movement.

One of the most iconic landmarks of San Francisco is the Golden Gate Bridge. Spanning the Golden Gate Strait, it connects the city to Marin County and is considered one of the most beautiful bridges in the world. Another famous site is Alcatraz Island, once home to a federal prison that housed some of the country’s most notorious criminals. The prison is now a museum, and visitors can tour the island and learn about its history.

San Francisco’s diverse neighborhoods offer a unique experience for visitors and residents alike. The Mission District is known for its murals and Mexican food, while the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood is the center of the city’s hippie culture. Chinatown is one of the largest in the world and is a popular destination for food and shopping. Other notable neighborhoods include the Castro, a center of the city’s LGBTQ+ community, and Pacific Heights, known for its Victorian houses and stunning views of the city.

San Francisco is also a city of innovation. It is home to many startups and has a thriving technology industry. The city’s culture of creativity and entrepreneurship has led to the development of many groundbreaking technologies, including the personal computer, the internet, and social media. The city is also home to many world-class museums, such as the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and the de Young Museum, which houses a collection of American art from the 17th through the 21st century.

In recent years, San Francisco has faced many challenges. The city’s high cost of living has led to a housing crisis and widespread homelessness. The COVID-19 pandemic has also had a significant impact on the city, causing many businesses to close and leading to a significant decrease in tourism. Despite these challenges, however, San Francisco remains a vibrant, dynamic city that attracts visitors and new residents from around the world.

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