Generative AI in Family History

AI has the potential to streamline family history research and reveal exciting discoveries. Although able to generate impressive amounts of plausible text, it’s no perfect all-knowing expert. The companies make that clear up-front.

“ChatGPT can make mistakes. Consider checking important information.”

“Gemini may display inaccurate info, including about people, so double-check its responses.”

“Copilot uses AI. Check for mistakes.”

Mistakes cross the line to blatant lying, as I found when one of them produced a quote from an old book that supported my theory. When I checked the book, the quote was nowhere to be found. When confronted, the AI app eventually acknowledged the fabrication.

Just as you would in finding “facts” in a compiled family tree, always test AI information against primary sources so you can harness it responsibly for your family history.

Let AI do what it does best. Examples are:

Suggest record sources you may have missed.
Suggest outlines and drafts.
Summarize documents. TL/DR!
Transcribe faded documents using handwriting recognition tools.
Colourize old photos.

I also suggest treating it as a toy to learn about its burgeoning capabilities in these early days. It’s fun to get it to write poetry like this which it did when prompted  about the forthcoming total eclipse of the sun on 8 April.

Cosmic Tango

Sun and moon, celestial pranksters, Engage in their cosmic dance. Sun says, “I’m the center of attention!” Moon winks, “Hold my shadow.”

The sky dons its twilight cloak, Birds gossip, leaves gasp. Sun’s corona—fancy halo or bad hair day? Moon shrugs, “It’s all about perspective.”

Eyes squint through eclipse glasses, Hearts race like caffeinated squirrels. Totality arrives—a cosmic mic drop, And we’re left starstruck, craving more.

Sun reclaims its spotlight, moon sulks, But we? We’re forever changed. We’ll tell our grandkids, “I saw the sun blush!” And they’ll say, “Sure, Grandma. Pass the bananas.”




3 Replies to “Generative AI in Family History”

  1. Not sure yet how I may use it. The idea of leads then check the facts is a good strategy.
    As with any new technology that has actually been around longer than we realize, to use it with our own intelligence.

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