NYC’s business chatbot is reportedly doling out ‘dangerously inaccurate’ information

An AI chatbot released by the New York City government to help business owners get the right information has been telling lies, sometimes even informing users of illegal content, according to a report from . The report, which was published in conjunction with nonprofit newsrooms Written and Cityincludes many examples of errors in chatbot responses to questions related to housing policies, workers’ rights and other topics.

The administration of Mayor Adams in October as an addition to the MyCity portal, which as “a one-stop shop for city services and benefits.” The chatbot, powered by Microsoft’s Azure AI, targets current and prospective business owners, and is billed as a source of “reliable and reliable information” that comes directly from government websites. But it’s a pilot program, and the site’s disclaimer says that it “can sometimes produce errors, harm or bias.”

In The Markup‘s, chatbots repeatedly provided incorrect information. In response to the question, “Can I make my store cashless?”, for example, it answered, “Yes, you can make your store cashless in New York City” – even though New York City banned cashless stores in 2020. The report shows that chatbots they also answered incorrectly whether employers can receive their employees’ tips, whether landlords should receive Section 8 vouchers or rent assistance, and whether businesses must notify employees of changes to the system. A housing policy expert who spoke The Markup called the chatbot “horribly flawed” at worst.

The city has indicated that the chatbot is still working. In words to The MarkupLeslie Brown, spokeswoman for the NYC Office of Technology and Innovation, said the chatbot has “already provided thousands of people with timely, accurate answers,” but added, “We will continue to focus on improving this tool so we can better help small businesses.” all over the city.”

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