On 10 November, SWIS launched Postbus42.nl under the slogan one-stop shop, never search again and get an answer to your question immediately. This is an example of how AI can be used in the public domain. Indeed, with Postbus42, a person can receive relevant government information instantly with one query, thanks to AI. SWIS took inspiration from the old Postbus 51, but with today's technology.
Artificial Intelligence for Postbus
Postbus 42 meets citizens' need to be able to find all government information in one place. Thanks to new search technology with AI (artificial intelligence), this is possible.
This technology 'understands' a question, can make connections and then answer it. If desired, it can summarise or simplify it. Moreover, it contributes to better and more personalised government services. Postbus 42 is a glimpse into the future.
Reliable Postbus information
Government information must be reliable. That is why all answers from Postbus 42 are based on information from Rijksoverheid.nl. You should also be able to see where the AI got its answer from; information should be traceable to the source.
The links to the sources are therefore in the answer. This way, you can check whether AI has understood the question correctly and its answer is correct (something that ChatGPT, a widely used application of AI, cannot do now). And it provides links that allow immediate further exploration of the question.
Postbus 42 is largely made with open source software. We currently still partly rely on ChatGPT to help formulate the answer. Ideally, we would like to get rid of that, but the alternatives are not yet good enough for that. SWIS is pleased that the Dutch government is working on a secure, Dutch alternative to ChatGPT .
"We envisage an internet where not a few AI oracles on the other side of the world call the shots, but an internet with lots of small proprietary AIs," says Matthias Snoei, director of SWIS. "An internet where AI is cleverly integrated into every website, or at least every organisation or agency."
SWIS is a Leiden-based digital agency that develops websites and applications that support organisations in their digital evolution. SWIS strongly believes in an open internet and wants to contribute to a positive digital future.
Postbus 42 demonstrates what that can look like for the central government. But our technology is of course more widely applicable. For the Dutch Journal of Medicine, we developed Ask NTvG. An AI application on top of the NTvG database of over 200,000 scientific articles: Vraag, Vind, Vertrouw: Ask NTVG | NTvG
We borrow the one-stop-shop idea from the old Postbus 51. With the number 42, we pay tribute to The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, where, after 7.5 million years of thinking, Super Computer Deep Thought concludes that 42 is the answer to the Ultimate Question about Life, the Universe and Everything.