The city of Yokosuka south of Tokyo on Thursday became the first local government in Japan to start trial use of artificial intelligence chatbot ChatGPT across all of its offices, hoping to improve efficiency.

Officials in Yokosuka, Kanagawa Prefecture say confidential data will be excluded and that entered data will not be used for training ChatGPT.

An official of the Yokosuka municipal government uses ChatGPT at the city hall in Kanagawa Prefecture on April 20, 2023. (Kyodo)

In the one-month trial, Yokosuka will use ChatGPT to make bulletins, summarize records of meetings, edit documents for typographical errors, solicit proposals for new projects and gain advise for its policies, the officials said.

"It is one of the tools we can use as we think about what a municipal government can do to help residents lead happier lives," Yokosuka Mayor Katsuaki Kamiji said.

City officials will enter questions or instructions in LoGoChat, a chat tool already introduced for local governments and connected with ChatGPT for the trial.

The city will officially adopt the generative AI if the trial proves its usefulness and effectiveness in improving municipal operations, the officials said.

Chatbots are software applications trained using massive amounts of data from the internet, enabling them to process and simulate human-like conversations with users.

The central government's ministries and agencies are also considering using ChatGPT for purposes including helping generate responses to lawmakers' questions in parliamentary sessions. The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries is eying trial use possibly later this month.

"We want to use various kinds of AI to promote reforms in work practices" at central government offices and agencies, Digital Minister Taro Kono said earlier.

Takeaki Matsumoto, minister of internal affairs and communications, said Thursday at a Diet committee that his ministry intends to use ChatGPT on a trial basis for part of its operations while taking note of the importance of appropriately handling confidential information.

"It is important to consider appropriate rules (for the usage) rather than stopping the usage altogether due to its challenges," he said.

ChatGPT, launched in November 2022 by U.S. venture OpenAI as a prototype, stands for Chat Generative Pre-trained Transformer and is driven by a machine learning model that works much like the human brain.

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