ChatGPT and Family History: Using AI to Augment the Way We Explore Our Roots

ChatGPT and Family History: Using AI to Augment the Way We Explore Our Roots

From the culture desk / 

If you work in tech, you probably know the thing about AI is, it's not magic. Like any technology it's a tool that can be used for good or bad. The more we understand how General Artificial Intelligence (manmade intelligence) works, the better we can discern the intent behind how it's used.

There's a lot of hype about AI, but let's go over a scenario where AI has the potential to transform the way we do family history

First, write a ChatGPT prompt (see number 1 encircled in red in the attached figure) telling ChatGPT the scope of your ask. The prompt asks for interesting facts and events limited to the time he lived, in the known locations he lived. Then let's tell the AI it's biographical and non-fiction so it doesn't embellish anything.

Then, paste into ChatGPT the "Brief Life History" text of your ancestor that is generated by FamilySearch. You can find your ancestor's brief life history on the "person" view (see figure 2). FamilySearch uses natural language processing (NLP) to generate this based on known events.


Now that you have your prompt (figure 1), the brief life history (figure 2), hit return and let ChatGPT process your prompt (figure 3).

The output will range from mundane, to interesting. And its kind of raw. The output (6) is impressive, compact, and helps paint a picture of the life my ancestor might have lived.

Then to clean it up, ask it to limit events to anything within 100 miles of places he lived (5).

One strange (figure 7) from the AI says Anton would have witnessed the events at Wounded Knee. While it's possible, it seems like a speculation we shouldnt include when we post it on FamilySearch.

One last prompt (figure 8) asks the AI to remove speculation about what Anton would have witnessed. The result (figure 9) kept the baseball reference, without implying Anton was interested in baseball.


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