Artificial Intelligence

What does Artificial Intelligence Say About Our Neighborhood? – West Side Rag

Illustration by Madhav-Malhotra-003 via Wikimedia Commons.

By Andrea Flink

Big news! West Side Rag scored the interview that every media outlet in the country – no, the entire world – has been trying to land. Last night, our editorial staff sat down for an exclusive Q & A with GPT-4, the new chatbot that everyone is talking about. Even Bill Gates said he was “blown away” by the technology of this overnight sensation, calling it in MarketWatch “as fundamental as the microprocessor, the personal computer, the internet, and the mobile phone.”

All quotes attributed to GPT-4 are the exact words of the chatbot.

WSR: Do you blush at all the praise?

GPT-4: As an artificial intelligence language model, I don’t have emotions or a physical body, so I cannot blush or experience emotions like humans do. However, I am programmed to recognize and respond to different types of statements, including praise. If you give me a compliment or positive feedback, I will respond in a way that acknowledges your statement and provides a relevant response.

WSR: I think you speak very nicely.

GPT-4: Thank you for the kind words! As an AI language model, I am designed to understand and respond to natural language in a conversational manner. I’m glad to hear that you think I speak nicely and hope that I can continue to assist you with any questions or tasks you have in the future.

Okay, it wasn’t an exclusive interview — GPT-4 became available to the general public last week (for a fee). But we did do an interview with the chatbot to see what it could tell us about the Upper West Side.

Normally in presenting a Q & A, we say something like “Lightly edited for length and clarity.” There are no edits at all here, but we did make a few ruthless cuts. We threw out the chatbot’s list of best UWS restaurants, for instance, because it was out of date (The Mermaid Inn closed in September 2022). And we dumped an answer on the Theodore Roosevelt statue, removed from the front of the Natural History Museum in early 2022 after years of complaints that it embodied colonial, racist themes. GPT-4 hadn’t gotten the memo yet on its removal, since it only has information up to September 2021. So it tried to convince us that instead of colonialism, the statue “embodies the American ideals of bravery, perseverance, and strength.”

Sometimes, GPT-4 “hallucinates” or makes stuff up without alerting users. It clearly got Flaco the Owl wrong. See if you can find the errors. We asked it, “Where is the best place to see Flaco the Owl on the UWS?” It responded, “‘Flaco the Owl’ refers to one of the barred owls who gained popularity in recent years among birdwatchers and nature enthusiasts in New York City’s Central Park. To see Flaco the Owl on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, you should visit Central Park, specifically the Ramble, which is a densely wooded area in the park. The Ramble is located between 73rd and 79th Streets and is a popular spot for birdwatching.”

We also asked GPT-4 to write an UWS story in the style of Edgar Allen Poe, who once lived in a farmhouse on W. 84th Street. Poe, you’ll remember, was haunted by a talking bird: “Quoth the raven ‘Nevermore.’” Here’s the chatbot’s portrayal of that bird: “The raven cawed ominously, its voice an echo of the darkness that enshrouded my heart….” We’ll spare you the rest, and instead, let you hear what AI thinks about our neighborhood.

WSR: Let’s start with something all Upper West Siders secretly want to know: Is it better to live on the Upper West Side or the Upper East Side?

GPT-4: The choice between living on the Upper West Side (UWS) and the Upper East Side (UES) in New York City depends on your personal preferences, lifestyle, and priorities. Both neighborhoods have their unique qualities and advantages. Here’s a brief comparison to help you decide:

Upper West Side:

  1. Atmosphere: The UWS has a more laid-back, bohemian vibe, with a mix of families, young professionals, and artists. It’s known for its tree-lined streets and historic brownstones.
  2. Proximity to parks: The UWS is located between Central Park and Riverside Park, offering easy access to green spaces for recreation and relaxation.
  3. Cultural institutions: The UWS is home to renowned institutions like the American Museum of Natural History, the New-York Historical Society, and Lincoln Center.
  4. Food scene: The UWS has a diverse range of restaurants and eateries, offering a wide variety of cuisines at different price points.

Upper East Side:

  1. Atmosphere: The UES is often considered more upscale, with a higher concentration of luxury buildings and a reputation for being the “old money” part of Manhattan.
  2. Proximity to museums: The UES is home to Museum Mile, featuring prestigious institutions like the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Guggenheim, and the Frick Collection.
  3. Shopping: The UES offers high-end shopping options, particularly along Madison Avenue.
  4. Schools: The UES has a higher concentration of prestigious private schools, making it attractive for families seeking top-notch education for their children.

It’s recommended to visit both neighborhoods, spend time exploring their streets, and talk to residents to get a feel for which area best suits your lifestyle.

WSR: What if I’m single? Is the Upper West Side a good place for singles to live?

GPT-4: The Upper West Side can be a good place for singles, depending on individual preferences and lifestyle. The neighborhood offers a variety of benefits that may appeal to singles, including:

  1. Proximity to parks: The Upper West Side is located near Central Park and Riverside Park, providing ample green spaces for outdoor activities, sports, and socializing.

  2. Cultural institutions: The area is home to several cultural institutions, such as the American Museum of Natural History, the New York Historical Society, and Lincoln Center, offering opportunities for entertainment and socializing.

  3. Dining and nightlife: The Upper West Side has a diverse range of restaurants, bars, and cafes, which can cater to various tastes and budgets.

  4. Public transportation: The neighborhood is well-connected by subway lines and buses, making it convenient for residents to commute or explore other parts of the city.

  5. Safety: The Upper West Side is generally considered a safe neighborhood, which may be an important consideration for singles living alone.

However, the neighborhood may not be as lively as other parts of the city, such as downtown Manhattan or Brooklyn, in terms of nightlife and social scene. Some singles may prefer more vibrant areas with a higher concentration of young professionals and a more active bar and club scene. Ultimately, whether the Upper West Side is a good fit for a single person depends on individual preferences and priorities.

WSR: Do you think the UWS will ever be car free?

GPT-4: A car-free Upper West Side (UWS) is a possibility, but it would require significant changes to the neighborhood’s transportation infrastructure, as well as cooperation from residents and businesses.

There have been calls from some community groups and advocates to make the UWS car-free in order to reduce traffic congestion, improve air quality, and enhance pedestrian safety. Some cities around the world, such as Oslo, Norway and Madrid, Spain, have already implemented car-free zones in certain areas, showing that it is a possible concept to achieve.

To make the UWS car-free, several changes would need to be made, such as expanding public transportation options, creating bike lanes and bike-sharing programs, and promoting walkable streets. This would require significant investment from the city government and collaboration with community groups and businesses to ensure that the changes are implemented in a way that is equitable and sustainable.

However, it’s important to note that achieving a car-free UWS would be a complex process and may face opposition from some residents and businesses who rely on cars for transportation and commerce. There would need to be a comprehensive plan and strategy in place to address these concerns and ensure that the transition to a car-free UWS is done in a way that is fair and inclusive.

While it may be challenging to achieve a car-free UWS, continued efforts to reduce car traffic and promote sustainable transportation options could help make the neighborhood a safer and more livable place for residents and visitors alike.

WSR: What is the best online publication serving residents of the Upper West Side of Manhattan?

GPT-4: While there are several online publications serving residents of the Upper West Side of Manhattan, one of the most popular and well-regarded options is the West Side Rag. This hyperlocal news website focuses on the Upper West Side and provides up-to-date news, events, stories, and relevant information tailored to the neighborhood.

The West Side Rag covers a wide range of topics, including local news, arts and culture, real estate, dining, and community events. It also features opinion pieces and personal stories from local residents, helping to foster a sense of community within the Upper West Side.

We hope our readers agree!

You can download ChatGPT here for free, though it can be slow or unavailable during peak use times. To access GPT-4, you need to subscribe to ChatGPT Plus for $20/month (cancelable at any time according to the site), which also gives you access to ChatGPT even during peak times, faster response time, and priority access to new features and improvements.


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