Texas lawmakers turn to AI to write report on AI

The 50-page report, released this week, summarizes the results of the select committee’s initial hearing in April.
The Texas State Capitol Building in Austin (Photo: Reid Wilson, Pluribus News)

A Texas House select committee on artificial intelligence used AI tools to produce its first report to the legislature.

The 50-page report, released this week, summarizes the results of the select committee’s initial hearing in April. A disclaimer on page two says that it was created with the help of AI technology.

According to the disclaimer, the audio from the five-and-a-half hour meeting was uploaded and converted to text, which was then analyzed by an AI large language model. That model suggested a table of contents, summarized the testimony of expert witnesses and identified key quotes and recommendations.

“While AI played a role in augmenting the efficiency of the production process, it is important to acknowledge that much of the work, including research, editing, proofreading, and content refinement, was conducted by human writers, researchers, and editors,” the disclaimer reads.

The chair of the select committee, state Rep. Giovanni Capriglione (R), told Pluribus News that he decided to use AI tools, including ChatGPT, in part to show the power of the technology, but also because there was a short turnaround for the report.

“We did get it finished quicker than we would have without [it],” Capriglione said, adding that the initial draft was “a little clunky” and still required days of editing by the committee’s clerk.

“It was helpful, but it still required a lot of effort on our part,” Capriglione said.

Much of the work involved checking to make sure the AI had accurately captured quotes and recommendations from the subject matter experts who testified before the committee. There were also formatting issues and context that was lacking, Capriglione said.

Overall, Capriglione thinks AI helped make the report better because of its thoroughness as it processed the entire contents of the hours-long hearing.

“It probably captured more content than we might have otherwise because it looked at all of it, it never got tired,” he said.

Capriglione also demonstrated the power of AI when his committee first assembled on April 29. He surprised his colleagues by preparing their opening remarks using AI voice cloning technology and words borrowed from their legislative websites.

This is not the first time state lawmakers have turned to AI to assist them. Last year, Massachusetts state Sen. Barry Finegold (D) used ChatGPT to help him write a bill to regulate generative AI systems. New York Assemblymember Clyde Vanel (D) used Auto-GPT to suggest ideas for legislation and then write a tenant rights bill. Alaska Rep. Jesse Sumner (R), used a Microsoft AI product to write legislation that would have replaced the legislative employees whose job is to draft bills on lawmakers’ behalf.

Using AI to help draft bills stirred up a bit of a debate in the New York legislature this year. Sen. Brad Hoylman-Sigal (D), who chairs the Judiciary Committee, objected to fellow lawmakers’ use of AI to draft legislation. Speaker Carl Heastie (D) was more sanguine about the issue.

“It will still be humans that are going to determine whether a bill makes it to the floor and passes, ultimately,” Heastie said, according to Spectrum News.

Members of Congress have also experimented with using ChatGPT to draft legislation and U.S. Rep. Jake Auchincloss (D-Mass.) used the chatbot to write a floor speech.

The state legislators and members of Congress were all up front about employing AI to help them. But a council member in the southern Brazilian city of Porto Alegre was not when he used ChatGPT to write a city ordinance.

According to the Associated Press, Ramiro Rosário only told his fellow council members the truth after they passed his ordinance ensuring that residents are not charged to replace stolen water meters.

“If I had revealed it before, the proposal certainly wouldn’t even have been taken to a vote,” Rosário told the AP.

Capriglione said disclosure is important and that is why he put the disclaimer near the top of the select committee’s report. That part was also initially written by AI, but Capriglione said it was “long and legal” and needed editing.

Asked whether he will use AI to help write future select committee reports, Capriglione said he could see doing so but he is not sure.

“It was a really good exercise,” he said.