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New York City's AI Chatbot Keeps Getting Facts Wrong, 6 Months and $600,000 After Launch The MyCity chatbot was said to be the first city-wide use of AI — but it keeps giving business owners (and us) law-breaking advice.

By Sherin Shibu

Key Takeaways

  • The MyCity Chatbot is meant to help NYC businesses "quickly find information on many of the City's business services."
  • But the chatbot has been reportedly providing misleading, and potentially illegal, answers to questions.
  • We tested it out and found several inaccuracies.

MyCity, New York City's first citywide AI chatbot that launched in October 2023, promised to save entrepreneurs "time and money" with immediate answers to questions, including ones about compliance with city regulations.

But six months and more than $600,000 later, the bot, which is still in beta but widely available, is reportedly spitting out wrong answers to key questions about the city's minimum wage, if employers could take workers' tips, and if businesses had to tell staff about schedule changes, per The Markup.

Following the chatbot's advice could have led to trouble for business owners who used it and failed to fact-check answers.

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But New York City Mayor Eric Adams is defending the AI chatbot, Reuters reported on Thursday.

Adams defended the experimental nature of the chatbot this week, telling the outlet that "it's wrong in some areas, and we've got to fix it."

"Any time you use technology, you need to put it into the real environment to iron out the kinks," Adams said.

When Entrepreneur tested the chatbot Friday, it had corrected its answers to some of The Markup's queries. But when we asked the MyCity chatbot what the minimum wage was in NYC, it said $15 per hour.

The correct answer is $16 per hour.

The chatbot wasn't able to tell business owners the correct minimum wage to pay employees. Photo by Entrepreneur

The bot also wrote that "store owners in New York City are allowed to go cashless," even though NYC's consumer and worker protection policies state that "beginning November 19, 2020, stores must accept cash… They cannot charge more for paying in cash."

Questions asked by Entrepreneur also yielded inaccuracies, specifically on new policy changes in NYC that took effect this year.

For example, when we asked if businesses have to post the total price of an item, inclusive of the credit card surcharge, before checkout, the chatbot incorrectly responded no. Legislation that went into effect in February makes the correct answer yes.

Related: Apple Is Reportedly Eyeing the Home Robot Space After Scrapping Its 10-Year Electric Car Project

A disclaimer at the bottom of the page cautions that the chatbot's responses may "occasionally" be "inaccurate or incomplete."

Still, the MyCity Chatbot takes center stage on the NYC Business homepage as a way to "quickly find information on many of the City's business services."

Adams stated in October that business owners could more readily access "trusted information" from 2,000 NYC Business webpages with the bot. The city's Office of Technology and Innovation spent over half a million dollars ($600,000) to build the basis of the AI, according to ABC.

Related: These NYC Roommates Created a Fake Restaurant and Accidentally Garnered a 2,000-Person Waitlist

Sherin Shibu

Entrepreneur Staff

News Reporter

Sherin Shibu is a business news reporter at Entrepreneur.com. She previously worked for PCMag, Business Insider, The Messenger, and ZDNET as a reporter and copyeditor. Her areas of coverage encompass tech, business, strategy, finance, and even space. She is a Columbia University graduate.

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