Why the City needs a Roadmap

Why the City Needs a Roadmap

It’s important to emphasize that this is a rapidly emerging area, and there are no experts who can predict how generative AI will impact society. This is a time when action and leadership are important to be responsive and to bring out the best ideas to shape the future so that it works for everyone. 

With the creative ways people are already using AI, certainly there will be many new and unforeseen uses. There are virtually no barriers to entry, which means that these tools can and will be used by individuals in many capacities. People are using the tools as employers and employees, within families, and as customers and service providers.   

City employees can quickly and easily access a web browser or smartphone app on a city or personal device and use Generative AI seconds after creating an account. In fact, many employees have already begun using Generative AI for personal and work purposes, and new uses for Generative AI are appearing daily. 

ChatGPT had already amassed 100 million active monthly users in January, just two months after launch, which is far beyond any other website on the internet[4]. This rapid adoption of Generative AI presents opportunities as well as threats.

[4] Hu, Krystal, and Krystal Hu. “ChatGPT Sets Record for Fastest-Growing User Base - Analyst Note.” Reuters, February 2, 2023, sec. Technology.


The city needs experts who can help craft policy and issue internal and external communication. These experts should act as a touchpoint for collaboration, who can provide expertise when recommending policy, and who can develop and execute a plan to build capacity to act in this space in a way that allows innovation and fosters creation. The city also has an opportunity to protect the residents of Chicago and to ensure that they are treated fairly without deepening existing inequity.

Generative AI also raises concerns and poses significant threats, both for internal city operations as well as the general public. 

There is a rapidly growing awareness of the threat that AI poses for the future of employment, both in terms of intellectual labor as well as the possibility of improved automation. Hollywood has already felt the immediate impact and writers have mobilized to strike, and similar stories of displacement are beginning to unfold.

There has also been an uptick in the frequency and sophistication of crime and attacks involving identity theft, scams, online harassment, doxing, phishing and spear phishing, and experts fear that more attacks are on the horizon as AI is making workers for better or for worse[5]

Another concern about Generative AI is the impact on reinforcing stereotypes and propagating misinformation. This can happen because the AI is repeating viewpoints that may be widely held, even at an unconscious level. It can also happen intentionally when bad actors purposefully poison AI models to embed false or malicious information.

These are by no means a comprehensive accounting of the opportunities and threats that Generative AI presents. This sampling, however incomplete, presents a compelling reason for the City of Chicago to take action.

[5] Deloitte. “On High Alert: The Darker Side of Generative AI | Deloitte Middle East | ME PoV 41.” Accessed August 4, 2023.