My Introduction to ChatGPT

by , under Andover, Ashtabula County, Crawford County, Google, iPhone, Ohio, Online Research, Pennsylvania, Social History, Wikipedia

Today, I was introduced to the power of ChatGPT by my grandson who is an IT professional. He is convinced that it is an important demonstration of the power of artificial intelligence (AI). “

He signed into it on his iPhone and asked me to suggest a question to ask. I suggested: “What is Pymatuning Lake.” I grew up in Andover, Ohio, which abuts the state line between Ohio and Pennsylvania in Ashtabula County. It prides itself on being the “Gateway to Pymatuning Lake.”

Quick Search Result from ChatGPT

Within seconds, the app came back with the following statement:

“Pymatuning Lake is a reservoir located in the northwestern part of Pennsylvania in the United States, along the border with Ohio. It was created in 1933 by the construction of the Pymatuning Dam on the Shenango River. The lake covers an area of approximately 17,000 acres and has a maximum depth of 30 feet.

“The lake is a popular destination for recreational activities such as boating, fishing, camping, and hiking. It is home to a wide3 variety of fish species, including walleye, bass, catfish, and muskellunge, and is known for its excellent fishing opportunities. The Pymatuning State Park,. Located on the lake’s shore, offers many amenities such as campgrounds, beaches, and picnic areas, making it a popular destination for families and camping enthusiasts.”

That was a concise overview of the subject, containing 123 words. It would be sufficient for many situations.

Versus Wikipedia

Normally, I would look up such a question on Here is Wikipedia’s entry:

“Pymatuning Reservoir is a man-made lake in Crawford County, Pennsylvania and Ashtabula County, Ohio in the United States, on land that was once a very large swamp.[2] Much of it is incorporated into two state parks: Pymatuning State Park in Pennsylvania, and Pymatuning State Park in Ohio.[1]

History —The first known inhabitants were the Mound builders. Two of their mounds were flooded by the creation of Pymatuning Lake. The Lenape were living in the area when European settlers first came there. The lake is named for the chief who lived in the area at the time, Pihmtomink. The Lenape were pushed out of the area by the Seneca tribe, a member of the Iroquois Confederacy. The Seneca were defeated by General Anthony Wayne’s forces during the Northwest Indian War and left the area under the terms of the Treaty of Greenville. This treaty marked the end of Native Americans inhabiting the area.[3]

“The first settlers to the area were farmers, whose life was not easy, as the land was very swampy and very difficult to reclaim. Farm animals that wandered off were often lost in the quicksands of the swamp, or fell prey to predators like foxes, bears and mountain lions. The swamps were infested with mosquitoes that brought yellow fever to the settlers.[3]

“An unsolved murder case is associated with the then Pymatuning Swamp: in 1932 by herpetologist Norman Edouard Hartweg, while he was searching for reptiles, ran into a body of a lady. The police concluded that she had been murdered elsewhere, but her identity was never confirmed, nor the murderer identified.[4]

Dam and lake–“Building a dam on the Shenango River was first explored in 1911. A massive flood in 1913 caused $3 million in damage and took several lives. The Pennsylvania General Assembly approved a budget of $1.2 million to build at dam across the Shenango, but Governor John K. Tener slashed the budget to just $100,000.[3]

“The Pennsylvania legislature took action again in 1917, this time approving a $400,000 budget under the condition that the needed land in Ohio be purchased by the private sector. The Pymatuning Land Company was formed and raised the funds to purchase the needed Ohio properties. The land was finally acquired in full by 1931 when Governor Gifford Pinchot approved $1.5 million to complete the dam. 7,000 men began work on the dam in 1931 and the project was completed in 1934, with a final total cost of $3,717,739. The lake now holds 64.3 billion US gallons (243,000,000 m3) of water, covering 17,088 acres (69.15 km2) over a length of 17 miles (27 km) with a width of 1.6 miles (2.6 km) at the widest and 70 miles (110 km) of shoreline, with a maximum depth of 35 feet (11 m). The lake has served to provide a water supply for the Shenango and Beaver valleys, it has lessened the damage caused by floods, and provided recreation for the people of Ohio and Pennsylvania. Two state parks, each named “Pymatuning State Park”, are on the lake in Ohio and Pennsylvania.

“A scenic 2-mile-long causeway bridge spans the middle of the lake, connecting the towns of Espyville on the Pennsylvania side of the lake and Andover on the Ohio side. The bridge is crowned in the middle, with tall pillars and broad ducts underneath to allow lakewater to flow freely across the reservoir, and to permit the passage of sailboats and other pleasure craft travelling from one half of the lake to the other. The bridge is also equipped with small concrete and earthen pull-offs large enough for several vehicles apiece, with concrete staircases and walkways below the parking spaces to allow travelers to stroll down and fish or sightsee beside the bridge.

“The Pennsylvania portion also has a spillway separating the (higher) upstream-most portion of the lake from the rest. A parking area along the spillway serves a popular warm-weather attraction commonly known as “where the ducks walk on the fish” because visitors throw bread to the thousands of carp and Canada geese who congregate there.”

That explanation consists of 677 words and might be better for certain research situations, with its more comprehensive discussion of facts and history. Also, it has several references listed for additional review.

I will continue to refer questions to Wikipedia, especially ones involving geography. I find that Wikipedia has the information I am looking for about a town, a city, a county, or a state for genealogical research. But I will be checking the free version of ChatGPT for quick searches.

But What Is ChatGPT?

Using Google, I found this simple explanation by, an online computer testing and researching website: “ChatGPT is a natural language processing tool driven by AI technology that allows you to have human-like conversations and much more with the chatbot. The language model can answer questions and assist you with tasks like composing emails, essays, and code.

“ChatGPT was created by OpenAI, an AI and research company. The company launched ChatGPT on Nov. 30, 2022.

“Usage is currently open to the public free of charge because ChatGPT is in its research and feedback-collection phase. As of Feb. 1 (2023), there is also a paid subscription version called ChatGPT Plus.”

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