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  • Writer's pictureDevon Noel Lee

ChatGPT Failed? AI Struggles to Write Family History

Writing a family history can be challenging, but is there an innovative solution that can make the process super easy?

Recently, I attempted to use ChatGPT as a family history story generator. ChatGPT has gained attention for its potential to write novels and essays. Could it also write family histories?

Intrigued by its capabilities, I decided to put ChatGPT to the test.

My Experiment With ChatGPT Begins

Initially, I set out to determine if ChatGPT could effortlessly write a biography about a moderately known individual. My subject of choice was Luke Norris, an actor particularly famous for his role as Dr. Dwight Ennis in the beloved television miniseries "Poldark."

To put ChatGPT to work, I entered a simple prompt requesting a biographical sketch about Luke Norris. With anticipation, I eagerly awaited the generated content.

However, upon review, I noticed an important omission—the absence of any mention of "Poldark." Undeterred, I realized that evaluating the quality of the prompt was crucial.

By providing feedback and instructing ChatGPT to include "Luke Norris" and "Poldark," the subsequent iteration of the biography improved significantly.

It seems you must guide ChatGPT with a few details rather than what previous blog posts and videos suggested.

To view the experiment in its entirety, watch the following video:

Unveiling the Capabilities and Limitations

Based on my experiments, it became apparent that ChatGPT could indeed produce a brief biography of a famous individual. However, as I turned the focus on myself, the results proved to be less accurate.

ChatGPT's attempt to depict my life story presented several errors, attributing me to experiences and affiliations that were not a part of my reality.

Despite providing corrections, the generated content consistently failed to portray an accurate account of my personal background. The same trend continued when attempting to create biographies for lesser-known individuals like Robert Victor Zemstein and Effingham Townley.

Later, I learned that you have to provide ChatGPT with an outline of details about a person if you actually want to write a story.

However, ChatGPT seemed to handle stories about the German Immigrant experience in America around the 1850s and historical details about Gillersheim, Hanover. But, while these essays appear to provide excellent social history context. I became skeptical when I asked ChatGPT the following prompt.

The BIGGEST Failure of ChatGPT for Genealogists

Good genealogy work requires we cite our sources. For the social history essays, what sources does ChatGPT use to generate its content?

No matter how often I inquired, ChatGPT informed me that it could not provide the external sources consulted to generate the text.

Consequently, the absence of source citations made verifying the provided information's accuracy impossible. ChatGPT's inability to substantiate its claims hindered its effectiveness as a reliable tool for genealogical standards.

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The Imperative of Sourcing and Accuracy for Genealogists

In the world of genealogy, facts without sources amount to mere fiction.

While ChatGPT might be a valuable tool for unsourced novels or general essays, its limitations render it unsuitable for authoritative historical narratives.

When crafting a family history, the key lies in gathering the necessary groundwork and reliable research material. By following the proven process outlined in my "Write Your Family's History" program, you can experience an easy and efficient approach to writing captivating and accurate stories about your ancestors.

Will You Use ChatGPT for Your Family History?

So my takeaway is that you don't use ChatGPT to find your genealogy research and turn it into a story. Instead, you use ChatGPT to take the information from your sources and ask it to write a family history story.

If this ChatGPT and family history writing exploration has intrigued you, I encourage you to try the tool yourself. Share your experiences in the comments section.

More Help Drafting Your Family History

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