Episode II: What do Argentines talk about when we talk about AI? (an example)

AI: Argentine Intelligence. A Conversation about Artificial Intelligence

9 de Octubre de 2023

The news about ChatGPT meant a milestone in the popularization of artificial intelligence (AI) and the possibility for an active use of it. This impact has been so important that, perhaps, in the future, we will remember the day we first heard about ChatGPT, just as we remember historical moments such as the landing of man on the Moon. The irreversible change that AI is producing in our lives is happening at a faster rate than any other revolutionary inventions. However, its effects will not be the same for everyone. This generates both excitement and concern. Therefore, we wonder: how did Argentines receive the massification of AI tools?  Did specific themes arise in the public conversation associated with them?

In April 2023, several articles came out about ChatGPT, an extremely friendly AI tool that can be used through a web interface similar to that of any other chatbot and which became a milestone in the popularization of AI.  This made the tool much more-user friendly, giving rise to several conversations about its implications.

To answer these questions, the Accelerator Lab of UNDP Argentina, the Co_Lab, along with Citibeats, used an AI tool known as “social listening” that allows the understanding and analysis of a vast array of opinions about a particular topic, sourced through various online platforms and social media. Its analysis allows us to discern how these public sentiments relate to other issues and ascertain whether their connotation is positive or negative. Governments and organizations utilize this kind of tools for various purposes. For instance, prior to the declaration of the water crisis in Uruguay, people expressed concern about the scarcity of water, which was also linked to a surge in reported gastroenteritis cases. The World Health Organization uses comments from social media to track and preempt potential disease outbreaks, and even to anticipate possible new pandemics. In Sudan, an increase in conflict was detected during the period leading-up to the Civil War, along with various health emergencies. UNDP offices across countries use these social listening tools for diverse goals as well. In Pakistan, they were  used to assess the perspectives and needs of vulnerable women and youth, and subsequently prompted targeted protection measures. In Colombia, they were also used to survey the concerns of the youth about their future. In the Dominican Republic, both UNDP and UNESCO assessed public misconceptions about COVID-19, using the insights to counter emerging narratives that might prevent proper response measures. Meanwhile, in Yemen, UNDP gained insight into the pressing needs for employment and food security thanks to a long-term institutional vision, through which it managed to promote concrete actions for their fulfillment.

In partnership with Citibeats and drawing on this context, we examined nearly 22 million tweets from public accounts georeferenced in Argentina during the month of April in 2023. We used them as sample to gain insights into the public’s reception of ChatGPT's introduction and the general sentiments associated with AI.


21,797,947 tweets from georeferenced accounts in Argentina 

Tweets with mentions of AI : 39,037 

Period analyzed: April 2023

The conversation about AI was limited, encompassing just 0.18% (less than 1%!) of the tweets we examined. Yet, Argentina's interest surpasses that of other nations in the region. 

Opinions on AI in Argentina in comparative perspective 

Argentina: 0.18 

Chile: 0.17 

Colombia: 0.15 

Paraguay: 0.13 

Uruguay: 0.10 

Percentage of tweets talking about AI in April 2023

Public discourse on AI in Argentina was centered primarily on its implications for the future of work and its impact on industries, education, and the environment. Additionally, some voices highlighted the potential risks and ethical considerations of AI use. 

As for the future of work, there was a mix of apprehension and excitement. A portion of the population voiced concerns about their roles becoming redundant due to the advancement of AI. 

“I trained professionally for 5 years... and soon an AI will start doing my job.” 


Others fear that their work will be directly supplanted by AI-created products. “There may come a time when artists will use a purely AI-generated voice, leaving human artists out of work.” 

Yet, many also acknowledge AI's creative prowess and its potential to optimize processes, as some see it as a means to bolster efficiency and innovation. This becomes evident in some opinions that point to the importance of continuous learning and training in order to adapt to a rapidly changing job landscape. 

“While some question whether AI advancements might render them jobless, others harness its capabilities to streamline processes.” This viewpoint captures the dual nature of perceptions: some people are apprehensive about job loss, while others see AI as a tool to enhance work productivity. 

A subset of opinions delved into the implications of AI. In regard to its effects on the environment, discussions revolved around the energy demands of AI systems and their carbon footprint, raising concerns about the environmental impact of such technology. There's acknowledgment that using AI can be significantly energy-intensive, have a negative effect on the environment, and contribute to climate change. 

“How does artificial intelligence impact our environment? AI's environmental footprint could pose a threat to our planet.” 

“The environmental impact of AI ❓ 

Artificial intelligence tools, such as ChatGPT, are becoming increasingly popular. 🔌 However, their growing use could increase global data center energy consumption fivefold.” 

Such insights underscore the need to consider both benefits and possible environmental consequences of IA. Addressing its energy consumption and pursuing greener solutions in development and deployment of IA is imperative. 

Main topics of Tweets with mentions of AI from georeferenced accounts in Argentina in April 2023

Regarding the effects of AI on education and the different industries, there's a belief that AI can enhance student experiences through personalized tutoring and immersive virtual learning platforms. However, the need to regulate AI within educational settings was also brought up. Within the industrial sector, the potential of AI to streamline processes, oversee quality, and carry out maintenance work was emphasized. Robotics and automation driven by AI promise increased productivity, fewer mistakes, and smarter resource allocation. 

Apprehension and fear surrounding artificial intelligence pervades Argentina's public discourse on the subject. A significant number of people express unease over the capabilities of AI, particularly its potential to manipulate personal data and craft lifelike human depictions. The rising anxiety about AI possibly surpassing human intelligence raises questions about its oversight and the inherent risks it may pose. 

“I've been looking at the AI drawings for 40 minutes, the only thing I have to say is: how scary.” 

“This AI thing is absolutely dangerous. I still don't know what it is, but it scares me.” 

“They're creating robots so smart that it wouldn't be surprising if they were to rebel against their own creators and became modern-day Frankensteins capable of taking over the world. Just fiction? These devices are already doing the jobs of thousands of humans. That's how it starts. Watch out.” 

In the middle of this debate on AI, some voices express skepticism towards these fears. They challenge the trepidation surrounding AI and wonder if it is justified. These debates reveal the myriad of opinions and perspectives on artificial intelligence, and emphasize the need to cultivate and foster a deeper understanding of the subject.

“What are you so afraid of? Seriously, I don't get it.” 

Many underscore the importance of transparency, ethics, and an adequate regulation as the cornerstones for the responsible evolution of AI to curtail potential risks. In fact, 8% of the perspectives zeroed in on the regulatory and ethical dimensions of AI usage. 

“But, as technology progresses, it can replace jobs, but that's contingent on discussions around a universal income and a more equitable distribution of wealth.” 

In April, 2023, the media spotlight on AI was perhaps its brightest yet. However, the debate on social media seemed somewhat short. Dominant concerns revolved around the implications of AI for the future of work, education, industries, and the environment. Although AI poses challenges and concerns, it also brings significant opportunities and benefits, and Argentinians appear keen and willing to adapt to the forthcoming changes. 

Broadening the conversation around AI is paramount, as its advancements will lead to distinct outcomes requiring case-specific evaluations. Therefore, the richer and more diverse the debate is, the better we can foresee and leverage AI's potential benefits.

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