There’s been a lot of hand-wringing over the socioethical implications of artificial intelligence. Though AI has stoked public curiosity for ages, it wasn’t until the release of ChatGPT, an artificial intelligence language model designed by the San Francisco-based research lab OpenAI, that everyone from statisticians to surgeons started questioning their job security.
GPT-3, the newest and most ambitious version of the chatbot, has demonstrated an uncannily human ability to answer questions in a conversational way. The more you engage with it, the more it personalizes its responses. Leaders in the hospitality and tourism sector have taken notice, as this will inevitably impact trip planning, language translation, and more.
In the most Chicken Little scenario, travel agents, tour guides, hotel concierges, and writers like myself could be out of work in five years (or less). In reality, it’s more likely that AI will help us do our jobs better and more efficiently. To test ChatGPT’s current capabilities when it comes to trip design, I tasked it with planning my next vacation—a familymoon with a newly mobile toddler.
After 20 years together, my husband and I finally tied the knot last summer. Our honeymoon has become a family vacation, which means taking the needs and limitations of a 14-month-old into consideration.
Though we already had a shortlist of destinations in mind, I was curious what ChatGPT would suggest without knowing our preferences, budget, or time constraints. After congratulating me on my marriage, which was both sweet and unnerving, it rattled off a greatest hits list of generic familymoon ideas: Hawaii (been there, done that), Disney World (no thanks—we have plenty of time for character meet-and-greets), and the Caribbean (perfectly fine, but it doesn’t feel epic enough for this once-in-a-lifetime trip).
Clearly ChatGPT would benefit from more specificity, so I shared our homebase (Minneapolis), vacation allotment (one to two weeks), max budget ($10,000), and child’s age. It rattled off more bucket list-y picks (Japan, New Zealand, Australia, South Africa), all of which I’ve visited, and seemed to forget that we have a baby in tow; its top reasons for picking New Zealand included bungee jumping and skydiving.
Short of time, I tell it that our frontrunner is the Faroe Islands. ChatGPT spends the next five paragraphs hard selling the remote North Atlantic archipelago as a fabulous destination, playing up the self-governing Danish territory’s “rugged coastlines, picturesque villages, and dramatic waterfalls.” It also warns me that the volcanic islands can be challenging weather-wise, crazy expensive to visit (no kidding), and tricky with a toddler due to its sheer ruggedness. I’m annoyed at ChatGPT’s honesty but also know that it’s right. But these are risks we’re willing to accept.
When to go
When I ask for the best time of year to visit the Faroe Islands, ChatGPT recommends June, July, and August for longer days (up to 19 hours of sunlight) and milder weather. These months, it also notes, are packed with cultural events such as Summer Solstice and the Summarfestivalurin music festival. Unfortunately, the dates it provides for both are off—the former by two days and the latter by two months.
Knowing I’m based in Minneapolis (MSP), ChatGPT advises we fly directly to Copenhagen (CPH) and catch a connecting flight to Vágar Airport in the Faroe Islands. Delta, KLM, and Air France operate flights from MSP to CPH, it says, and from CPH I can fly to Vágar Airport with Atlantic Airways, the national airline of the Faroe Islands. The total travel time would be 12 to 15 hours.