How would a robot fix the housing crisis?

Originally written as a column for Inside Housing.

Question: Is there a housing crisis in the UK?

‘Yes, there is a housing crisis in the UK. The housing crisis in the UK is characterized by a shortage of affordable housing, high house prices, and a lack of social housing. This has led to an increase in homelessness and people being unable to afford to buy or rent a home. The crisis is driven by a number of factors including population growth, lack of new home building, and government policies that have favored homeownership over renting.’

As you may have guessed, it wasn’t me that wrote the last paragraph. The clues are, I hope, there in the plodding prose style and the American spellings.

The author was actually ChatGPT, the artificial intelligence chatbot that has workers anxious for their jobs and schools and universities fearing that essays will be written by robots rather than students in future.

The bot goes on: ‘The crisis has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has led to job losses and economic uncertainty, making it harder for people to afford housing. The situation is particularly dire in London and other major cities, where housing is in high demand and prices are particularly high. The crisis is not only affecting low-income households, but also the middle-class families and young people. This is making it harder for them to access decent and stable housing.’

If that feels a bit out of date (the pandemic has arguably contributed to the opposite problem of labour shortages), it seems a reasonable summary if you accept that longstanding structural issues that we have done next to nothing to address can reasonably be described as a ‘crisis’. ChatGPT does at least get that the problem goes across incomes.

But what would the robot do about this, I wondered.

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