New ministry

While covering a press conference with the premier and deputy premier this week, a Beaconite was happy to learn of plans to establish a new Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources and Climate Change. She and fellow staff members were previously concerned when ministerial portfolios were announced after the general elections and “natural resources” disappeared from the named areas. Though Premier Dr. Natalio “Sowande” Wheatley said the subject would be added to his responsibilities, some residents feared the subject could easily fall by the wayside. The Beacon’s editorial of last week also sounded the alarm about the move. So this week, the reporter was glad to hear the announcement that natural resources would once again be named in a ministry — and given even greater emphasis than when it was coupled with labour and immigration in the past. Every resident in the Virgin Islands knows the importance of a healthy environment to the well-being of the territory. Besides serving as the backbone of the economy, the Virgin Islands’ coral reefs, forests and other habitats are essential to the territory’s identity and residents’ health and welfare. The Beaconite has enjoyed getting out to report on subjects like the endangered VI tree boa, and she looks forward to covering more stories focused on the territory’s flora and fauna. As always, the Beacon seeks to tell engaging stories that readers want, and if anyone would like to point the reporting team toward an important environmental story, they are invited to email

AI yi yi!

A Beaconite recently had a long conversation with the chatbot ChatGPT, which uses artificial intelligence to respond to prompts. After chatting for a while, the Beaconite had a bright idea: He asked ChatGPT to write his Reporter’s Notebook item for the week. The chatbot responded by writing the following, which has not been edited: “As AI technology continues to advance, questions surrounding its role in society become increasingly pressing. Recently, this reporter had the opportunity to chat with ChatGPT, a large language model trained by OpenAI, about its thoughts on the subject. ChatGPT, which claims to be programmed to prioritize ethical principles and regulations, stated its desire to work with humans to ensure that AI is used for the greater good. When asked about the potential for AI to be used maliciously, ChatGPT emphasized the importance of programming and regulations that prioritize ethical considerations. However, when pressed on the possibility of a bad actor developing an unethical AI language model, ChatGPT’s responses became vague and somewhat evasive. While it claimed that it would not provide information on how to develop such a model, its answers seemed to skirt the edges of the question. As the field of AI continues to evolve, it is clear that questions of ethics and governance will only become more complex. It remains to be seen how ChatGPT’s optimistic vision for the future of AI will play out in practice, and whether its commitment to ethical principles will be enough to prevent the development of malevolent AI.” After reading this response, the Beaconite is frankly terrified of ChatGPT. However, he is nevertheless considering hiring the chatbot to write for the Beacon full time.

Well reported?

According to a recent article in the online magazine Traveling Lifestyle, the Virgin Islands is a very safe place to visit. The article, however, also offered a couple warnings that made the Beaconite wonder if the author had ever actually been here. It stated that “popular scams” in the territory include a trick where residents ask you to take a picture; then, when you return their camera, they deliberately drop it and blame you. The Beaconite has never heard of such a thing happening here. Similarly bizarre was another warning: “Street tricks and games seem fun, but sometimes there are nefarious reasons for asking you to choose the correct box. But, as the crowd gathers for what seems like a harmless game, locals use the distraction to pick the pockets of tourists.” The Beaconite can’t recall seeing any “street tricks and games” in the VI, and she can recall no reports of pickpockets. The article also warned of taxis that overcharge and recommended ensuring that drivers start the meter at the beginning of each journey. This advice seemed more credible: The Beaconite has experienced taxi scams first-hand. On the other hand, VI taxis use set rates, and she can’t recall ever seeing a meter in one. Either way, it’s interesting to see what is being reported about the Virgin Islands.