Everyone is talking about ChatGPT. The artificial intelligence tool has taken the world by storm – but how well does it know the North East?
Inspired by a poster on Facebook who discovered that a the AI had come up with the confusing assertion that Cullercoats in North Tyneside had once been home to shipyards – it wasn’t – we decided to put ChatGPT to the test. We asked it two things: to give us a brief history of Newcastle, and to tell us what Newcastle is known for.
And while the answers were reasonably accurate there were a few assertions that might raise eyebrows around Tyneside. In a world where there is more and more talk of artificial intelligence “taking our jobs”, perhaps it won’t be quite as soon as we fear….
Of course, it’s worth bearing in mind that, by it’s very nature ChatGPT might have learned its mistakes – It really is terrifyingly clever – by the time you check yourself! But this is what we were told by the AI when we gave it a spin.
Here is a line-by-line breakdown of what ChatGPT gets right – and wrong – about Newcastle:
The ChatGPT chatbot started by telling us some pretty basic facts.
“Newcastle-upon-Tyne, often referred to simply as Newcastle, is a city located in the north-east of England. The area has been inhabited since Roman times, but the modern city of Newcastle began to take shape in the 11th century.”
This is inarguable and chimes with much of the accepted wisdom about Newcastle’s early history. Obviously something was going on here in Roman times – there’s Hadrian’s Wall to prove that – but at this point ChatGPT is being just vague enough not to offend anyone’s historical sensibilities. So far, so good.
“In the 12th century, the city was granted a charter by King Henry II, which allowed it to hold markets and fairs. Newcastle’s location on the River Tyne made it an important center for trade, particularly in coal and wool, and the city quickly became one of the most important trading centers in the north of England.”
Now we get into murkier waters, though bear in mind I’m not a professional historian. Did King Henry II provide the city’s charter? Well, British History Online suggests he granted certain rights to the people of the city – but the first mention of a charter comes in the time of his son King John. That said, this is very technical stuff.
The 12th century is a bit early for the coal trade, though not by as much as you might imagine – Henry III granted a charter relating to coal in 1239. Wool was also a big industry up here too – so we have to give the chatbot some credit.
“During the 18th and 19th centuries, Newcastle continued to grow and prosper, with the development of the coal industry and the expansion of the city’s port. The city also played a key role in the Industrial Revolution, with many factories and mills located in and around the city.”
Prospering during the 18th and 19th centuries? Yes, we’ll go with that. Though is worth saying that plenty happened in the 600 years ChatGPT has just skipped over! The city playing a key role in various wars with Scotland – becoming part of Scotland once or twice – and being a key stronghold during the English Civil War too.
As for mills – there certainly were mills in the city, but not on the scale or to the success of places like Manchester. Might be a bit of a stretch to mention those in a run-down of our city’s greatest hits.
“In the 20th century, Newcastle faced challenges as the coal industry declined, but the city has since reinvented itself as a center for culture, education, and tourism. Today, Newcastle is a vibrant city known for its lively nightlife, world-class museums and galleries, and historic landmarks such as Newcastle Castle and the Tyne Bridge.”
Full marks on modern Newcastle though, nothing we can criticise here! (Although you might want to ask how ChatGPT’s forgotten to mention Grey Street…)
We also asked for what the city is known for – this is the list we got: “
- The Geordie accent: The people of Newcastle are known as Geordies, and they have a distinctive accent that is instantly recognizable.
- Newcastle Brown Ale: This beer, also known as “Newkie Brown,” is a dark brown ale that has been brewed in the city since 1927.
Not brewed here any more sadly – but yes, fair to say Brown Ale has made Newcastle’s name far afield. Not least thanks to the famous stars on some of our favourite old Newcastle United shirts…
- Newcastle United Football Club: Newcastle is home to one of England’s most famous football clubs, Newcastle United. The team has a passionate fan base and plays its home games at St James’ Park stadium.
And speaking of Newcastle United, we can’t argue with this, either.
- The Tyne Bridge: This iconic bridge spans the River Tyne and is one of the most recognizable landmarks in the city.
Yes, and we can’t wait to see it painted and back to its best.
- The Angel of the North: Located just outside Newcastle, this giant sculpture is one of the most famous public artworks in the world.
The people of Gateshead might not like this one… Our Angel most definitely is an exceptionally famous piece of public art. But is it in Newcastle? Not really.
- The Great North Run: This annual half-marathon, which takes place in September, is one of the world’s largest running events and attracts tens of thousands of participants each year.
Can’t argue with that.
And when it comes to ChatGPT’s conclusion about Newcastle, we really couldn’t put it better ourselves: “Overall, Newcastle is known for its friendly people, vibrant culture, and rich history, making it a popular destination for visitors from around the world.”
Read The Full Story Here: Source