ChatGPT May Lead Me to Shut Down LawSoup.org
The New AI Chatbot is the Legal Robot I Always Dreamed of Building (And That’s Just a Small Part of Its Capabilities)
In case you haven’t heard, the newest, hottest AI is ChatGPT. And it’s not just hype. It is by far the most capable chatbot I’ve ever used. Ask it almost any question, on almost any topic, and you are likely to get a pretty satisfying answer.
I have been asking the bot several legal and tax questions, and thus far it appears to be quite accurate, and it provides answers that are clear and easy to understand. Check out some of these examples.
A member of my family is on the board of a non-profit, and she said the non-profit wasn’t sure whether it could conduct a raffle fundraiser. I asked ChatGPT “Is a non profit in California legally allowed to conduct a raffle?” Answer:
In California, non-profit organizations are generally allowed to conduct raffles as a means of fundraising, provided that they obtain a raffle license and follow certain rules and regulations.
Under California law, a raffle is defined as a game of chance in which participants purchase tickets, and one or more winners are selected through a random drawing of the tickets. Non-profit organizations that wish to conduct a raffle must first obtain a license from the California Attorney General’s office. The organization must also comply with various rules and regulations, including:
The raffle must be conducted for charitable or educational purposes only.
The organization must be a qualified non-profit organization, meaning that it is exempt from federal income tax under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.
All proceeds from the raffle must be used for charitable or educational purposes.
The organization must maintain complete and accurate records of all raffle activities, including the names and addresses of all persons who purchase tickets, the number of tickets sold, and the amount of money collected.
The organization must provide a list of all prizes to be given away, along with the value of each prize.
The organization must conduct the raffle in a fair and honest manner, and must not use any deceptive or misleading practices to promote the raffle.
Question answered! Then I thought, wait, can a for-profit business conduct a raffle? Answer, in part:
In general, for-profit organizations in California are not allowed to conduct raffles. Raffles are considered to be games of chance, and under California law, only non-profit organizations are permitted to conduct such games for fundraising purposes.
Wow, I had no idea about this. It seems like companies conduct raffles and/or sweepstakes contests all the time. When I ask ChatGPT about sweepstakes, it tells me “sweepstakes must be free to enter and cannot require a purchase or any other type of consideration in order to participate.” Ah, now I remember that companies always include disclaimers that “no purchase is necessary to enter the sweepstakes.”
I’m learning so much from this robot already! I have asked it questions on topics including tax savings from stock losses, and employment discrimination issues, and more, with satisfying results. And it occurred to me that this is exactly what I tried (and failed) to build a few years ago. I had wanted to create a resource that would feel conversational as if you were talking to a lawyer, and would give you easy to understand answers, instantly, at little or no cost.
So I built a chatbot and filled it with questions and answers I had written on LawSoup.org. It kinda worked on a very limited set of questions, some of the time. It was definitely not good enough to keep around. But ChatGPT is the legal chatbot, or robot lawyer, of my dreams.
To be sure, ChatGPT concedes that it “may occasionally generate incorrect information.” I would certainly not rely on it for important legal advice, especially not at this point. But if at some point it does become as reliable – or even more reliable than – a human lawyer, it will change everything.
It will mean that my work to catalogue as much useful legal information as possible on this site, LawSoup.org, may be rendered essentially superfluous. That said, it’s still advantageous to have this information displayed in a full-page format so you don’t actually have to ask the questions or even know what questions to ask.
And it certainly remains essential for every person to have a fundamental grasp on the basic concepts and workings of the law and government – which you can learn in our easy-to-read new and refreshed Law Soup books (I just had to slip that in!).