by Brent Eades
Artificial intelligence (AI) platforms such as GPT-3 have grown immensely more powerful in recent years, especially in their ability to generate text that can seem eerily similar to what a skilled writer would produce. In many cases, it can be hard to tell if a machine wrote what you’re reading, or a person.
Not, however, if you’ve asked the AI to write a brief history of Almonte and you know anything about our heritage. Recently I fired up several online AI services that promised to ‘write articles for me’ based on some initial information I provided them. The results were … interesting.
Most of them seemed to have at least a vague idea of where and what we are, but after that things went downhill quickly. They were just making stuff up, basically. Here are a few machine-generated histories of our early days. Needless to say, none of these are even remotely correct:
Almonte is a small town in Ontario, Canada. It is situated on the north shore of the Mississippi River in Lanark County, about 110 kilometres (68 miles) northwest of Ottawa. The town’s name comes from an Iroquois word meaning “on the other side”.
The history of Almonte is closely tied to that of its neighbour, Lanark. The first settlement in this area was a military post established by Lieutenant-Colonel John Lanark around 1783. This post was located at Pointe au Baril on the south shore of the Mississippi River and was intended to help keep American settlers out of Upper Canada.
The town’s early development was due to its location at a natural crossing point between east and west and north and south traffic along what became known as Almonte Crossing.
Almonte is a small town in Ontario, Canada. It was originally founded as a settlement for Irish immigrants who were fleeing the Great Famine of 1847.
The name comes from the Spanish word “alma” which means soul or spirit. The town was originally spelled Almont but changed to Almonte due to an error in spelling by the postmaster.
Almonte is a town in Eastern Ontario, Canada, in Lanark County. It is located on the Mississippi River and the Rideau Canal at the point where these two waterways meet.
The history of Almonte can be traced back to 1792 when Lieutenant-Governor John Graves Simcoe founded the town as a military outpost to defend Upper Canada from American invaders. The town’s original name was “Almout” which means “meeting place” in Native American language.
Almonte is a small town in Ontario, Canada. It is located in the centre of the province, about 50km north of Ottawa, and about the same distance south of Peterborough.
The first European to settle in Almonte was John Gully, an Irishman who received a grant of land in 1784. Gully built a small log cabin on the eastern bank of the river and named his property “Almond” after the almond tree that grew nearby. Later in the 1790s, Benjamin Lailey, a London, England-born surveyor, arrived and built a small frame home on the site of Gully’s old cabin. He called his property “Almond’s Point” after the old name and the nearby almond tree.
Editor’s note: To be fair, none of the AI services I tried promised to do all my research for me and get it right — just that they could generate correct and human-sounding sentences. Which they did, for the most part. The moral of the story is, as with everything you do online: don’t trust everything you read there to be accurate, truthful, or, for that matter, to have been written by an actual human being.