AI Insider No. 47

Happy Father’s Day to the dads and dad stand-ins! Thanks for all that you do. And Happy Juneteenth in advance! This week, just ahead of the Juneteenth holiday on Wednesday, we’ll examine a specialized AI-powered genealogy tool that helps fill in some of the gaps in America’s history.

An ad that ran in The Tennessee Gazette and Metro-District Advertiser, Wednesday, August 22, 1804, from the Articles of Enslavement collection. (

New Ancestry Collection Uses AI to Reveal Hidden Histories of Enslaved Americans

By Michelle Johnson and Claude, for AI Insider

With a boost from AI, has released a new collection of approximately 38,000 newspaper articles (actually, newspaper ads) spanning from 1788 to 1867, a move that can illuminate the sometimes-obscured histories of enslaved people. 

The Articles of Enslavement collection can be accessed for free at, or on its sister site,

AI was instrumental in hunting down the content in the collection, and the site’s AI-powered search can help users pinpoint crucial information such as names, ages, physical descriptions, and locations of enslaved people and enslavers. The collection includes details about auctions, freedom seekers, and the monetization of enslaved people, showcasing a broad range of stories from various states and regions.

The collection, officially announced on Tuesday (It was up as a beta on, contains details on more than 183,000 enslaved individuals. It offers a resource for descendants seeking to uncover their family histories and other stories.

Routine newspaper content of the time can shed light on how black people were sold at auctions and how some escaped their enslavers who ran ads offering rewards for their return.

According to Ancestry, some of this content offers previously unseen insights into communities where courthouse and local records have been lost or destroyed, filling gaps in the historical record.

The site includes a warning that “the content may be distressing or traumatic for some viewers.” It also links to a blog post with tips for navigating the content and possible emotional fallout. 

In a press release about the collection, Dr. Karcheik Sims-Alvarado, Assistant Professor of Africana Studies at Morehouse College, said:  “This collection is invaluable for providing descendants of enslaved individuals with insights into their ancestral histories and their forebears’ acts of resistance and resilience, despite the Emancipation Proclamation being largely ignored by enslavers, newspaper publishers, and lawmakers. 

“By piecing together individual stories, researchers can construct a more detailed picture of the lived experiences of Black Americans, enriching our collective understanding of history.”

Some bits of history illuminated by ads in the collection: 

*Enslavers requested that runaways be held in jail until they could be retrieved. 

*The term “griffe” was used to describe people of mixed race.

*One ad described runaways as wearing “Negro cotton.”

Subscribers to and will find that searches include content from the enslavement collection, tying together multiple resources.

The Articles of Enslavement collection joins Ancestry’s other specialized collections related to African Americans, which are all made available for free. These 18 million records include the Freedmen’s Bureau and Freedman’s Bank records.

Video: Genealogist and Senior Story Producer Nicka Sewell-Smith talks about the new collection. (

Ancestry isn’t the only company using AI to unearth stories. The magazine Mother Jones spent two years researching and deploying AI to assist in producing a multi-part series and podcast titled “40 Acres and a Lie.”

The series intro explains: “A government program gave formerly enslaved people land after the Civil War, only to take nearly all of it back a year and a half later. We used artificial intelligence to track down the people, places, and stories that had long been misunderstood and forgotten, then asked their descendants about what’s owed now.

(Ed note: If you’re a member of the National Association of Black Journalists, be advised that on Thursday, August 1, Ancestry will host a panel discussion, “Genealogy & Journalism: Leveraging Primary Source Records to Amplify Storytelling,” at NABJ’s annual convention, held in Chicago this year.)

Yahoo News app displays AI-generated “key takeaways.” (Yahoo)

Yahoo Integrates AI into News App

By Copilot, for AI Insider

Yahoo has unveiled a revamped version of its News app, integrating AI technology from the now defunct Artifact app. (Ed. Note: Yeah, Yahoo is still around!)

Artifact’s AI, an experiment that failed, featured algorithms known for analyzing user behavior to tailor content. These algorithms now power Yahoo’s News app. Yahoo acquired Artifact in April.

The updated app is available on both iOS and Android. A Yahoo account isn’t required. This move appears to be part of Yahoo’s broader strategy to incorporate AI into its services, as seen with recent enhancements to Yahoo Mail.

A key innovation in the Yahoo News app is the “Key Takeaways” feature ported over from Artifacts. This feature provides AI-generated summaries of news articles. Although currently limited to a select group of desktop users, plans are in place to expand this feature across all platforms.

The app’s personalization process begins with users selecting a minimum of five topics of interest. A blend of AI algorithms and human editorial oversight then crafts a news feed. The goal is to create a balance that prevents users from falling into echo chambers.

To combat clickbait, the app allows users to flag misleading headlines. When enough reports are received, AI and editors collaborate to produce clearer, more informative headlines.

Engagement is further encouraged through gamification, rewarding users with badges and titles based on their reading habits.

ChatGPT can convert files into different formats. (Screenshot)

Did You Know ChatGPT Could Do This?

By Michelle Johnson and ChatGPT, for AI Insider

Did you know that ChatGPT can convert file formats? Let’s say you have a photo that needs to be converted from JPG to PNG or a text file that needs to be a PDF. Or vice versa. Sure, there are a bunch of ways to do that, including ChatGPT’s GPT feature. But if you happen to have ChatGPT open, it’s pretty easy to just upload a file and politely ask it to convert it.

When asked if it could provide a list of formats that it can convert, ChatGPT responded:

Absolutely! Here are some common file formats for various types of documents and data that can typically be converted:

Text and Document Formats:

TXT (Plain Text File)

DOC/DOCX (Microsoft Word Document)

RTF (Rich Text Format)

ODT (OpenDocument Text Document)

PDF (Portable Document Format)

HTML (HyperText Markup Language)

EPUB (Electronic Publication)

Spreadsheet Formats:

XLS/XLSX (Microsoft Excel Spreadsheet)

ODS (OpenDocument Spreadsheet)

CSV (Comma-Separated Values)

Presentation Formats:

PPT/PPTX (Microsoft PowerPoint Presentation)

ODP (OpenDocument Presentation)

Image Formats:










Other File Types:

MP3 (Audio)

WAV (Audio)

MP4 (Video)

AVI (Video)

MKV (Video)

If you need to convert any files between these formats or others, feel free to ask!

Note: We did not test all of these conversion formats, so buyer beware.

PDF converted to a text file. (Screenshot)

What. The. Actual. Hell?


NBC News: AI candidate running for Parliament in the U.K. says AI can humanize politics

AP: Pope Francis becomes first pontiff to address a G7 summit, raising alarm about AI

Reuters: Microsoft to delay release of Recall AI feature on security concerns

CNBC: OpenAI adds former NSA chief to its board

Aht* Gallery

How are the sunsets where you are? Hopefully as nice as these AI-generated scenes produced by Midjourney.

(*Yeah, this is how it’s pronounced in Boston. Seriously.)

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Sunset2.gif

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