Politics For Members

Five reasons not to trust ChatGPT about Austrian politics

Amanda Previdelli
Amanda Previdelli - [email protected] • 25 Feb, 2023 Updated Sat 25 Feb 2023 09:48 CEST
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This picture taken on January 23, 2023 shows screens displaying the logos of OpenAI and ChatGPT. (Photo by Lionel BONAVENTURE / AFP)

If you were thinking about using the infamous artificial intelligence tool ChatGPT to write an essay about Austria, you might want to think again.


ChatGPT has made headlines as the latest and perhaps most intelligent artificial intelligence tool yet. It's officially an "AI language model that has been trained on a massive amount of text data" and can give you answers to questions, solve mathematical problems, write essays and even poems. 

The first cases of suspected cheating have recently been found in Viennese universities, as the broadcaster ORF reported.

The tool is impressive. It can tell you that a Sachertorte is a famous chocolate cake that originated in Vienna and say that Austria is considered a great country to live in for its high quality of life, beautiful natural scenery and more. However, it has many flaws.


ChatGPT is far from perfect

On its homepage, the tool itself warns that it may occasionally generate incorrect information, produce harmful instructions or biased content and have limited knowledge of the world and events after 2021. 

That last bit has made it unhelp regarding some simple but fundamental questions about Austrian politics. 

As we were testing the tool, we tried to ask it to tell us jokes, similarly to what The Local Sweden has done. Just like for our colleagues, we found its sense of humour pretty woeful.

We tried again, but the results weren't much better:

READ ALSO: Hasta la mista, baby? How to vote for your favourite Vienna trash can joke - The Local

So, we decided to get a bit more specific and maybe head into the political arena:

This was actually quite an interesting coincidence as Karl Nehammer, Austria's chancellor, has recently announced that he would give a speech on his vision for the future of the country. So, we took that and asked something more specific, "tell me a joke about Karl Nehammer". 

That was when ChatGPT's first major mistake came up nonchalantly:

Current Minister of Interior of Austria? No, he hasn't been a minister since December 2021, when he took over as chancellor of Austria. ChatGPT is definitely outdated and confused:

We know recent Austrian politics are complicated, with plenty of chancellor in a short amount of time, but just a quick recap: Sebastian Kurz (ÖVP) was elected for the second time in early 2020 but resigned in October 2021. He was immediately replaced by Alexander Schallenberg, who became chancellor for 56 days before resigning in December when Karl Nehammer took over.

READ ALSO: PROFILE: Who is Karl Nehammer, Austria’s new chancellor?

When we tried to correct ChatGPT, the tool wouldn't even acknowledge its mistake:

So we gave up on that and decided to check if it was more knowledgeable about Austria's head of state, asking it, "Who is Austria's President?". The reply was technically correct but incomplete:

He was elected in 2016 and took office in 2017 - for the first time. However, he is currently in his second term as president. So we checked to see how up-to-date ChatGPT was with that information:

The tool brought some new info about Van der Bellen's reelection, but it went off the rail in the second paragraph: "Van der Bellen was re-elected as President in 2019, again in a run-off election against Norbert Hofer. In this election, Van der Bellen won with 59.4 percent of the vote, while Hofer received 40.6 percent."

There were no presidential elections in 2019. Van der Bellen actually ran against several candidates in 2022 and won in the first round.


READ ALSO: Could presidential criticism lead to Austrian citizenship rule changes? - The Local

We decided to take a different approach and ask a broader question, prompting ChatGPT on "what is the FPÖ" Austria's far-right party. Again, it's not just that it is outdated; it is giving incorrect answers:

Granted, it wasn't a bad definition of the party and its extremist views, but the FPÖ has not been a junior partner in the government led by Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg (who is also not the "current" Chancellor). 

The FPÖ was most recently in a coalition with the ÖVP, yes, but when Sebastian Kurz was chancellor for the first time, between December 2017 and May 2019. Then, the partnership went to the ground after allegations of corruption involving senior FPÖ members, including vice-chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache.

READ ALSO: Is Austria’s Freedom Party a ‘far-right’ party?

Speaking of Kurz, we decided to ask ChatGPT more about the once-wunderkind:

The first thing that comes to mind: Kurz is not an Austrian politician currently serving as the leader of the Austrian People's Party (ÖVP). He resigned from the position and left politics altogether after his name was involved in corruption and bribery allegations. Chancellor Nehammer is the head of the ÖVP now.

It's an impressive tool, but with many limitations - from not being able to tell funny jokes to completely making up events and information on important topics.



Amanda Previdelli 2023/02/25 09:48

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