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What is ChatGPT and Who Should Use It for Work?

By now, you’ve probably started hearing a lot about AI and how it’s doing a lot of things to disrupt the world. It seems like every modern software application boasts AI capabilities, social media feeds are plastered with generative AI content, and techy people everywhere are providing their two cents on this new technology. The main star of artificial intelligence right now is ChatGPT, so we figured we’d shed some light on exactly what it does in plain English, and how you might be able to take advantage of it.

The Long History of Generative AI

If you are old enough to feel old, but young enough to have used AOL Instant Messenger back in your teenage years, then you probably remember an AOL Chatbot by the name of Smarterchild. If not, bear with me, this will be relevant.

Smarterchild was an AOL account that you would add to your Instant Messenger, and when you typed to it, it would instantly respond in friendly, conversational language. If you typed “Hello, how are you today?” it would quickly send you a textual message back with a response. If you asked simple questions about the weather or last night’s baseball scores, it would rapidly reply with an answer. It was also very well-versed in scolding young people for mischievous or abusive language. Still, in its peak, Smarterchild racked up 30 million users and would regularly answer over a billion messages a day.

Like most technologies, eventually the platforms Smarterchild worked on were discontinued, and Smarterchild’s developer, ActiveBuddy, was bought by Microsoft who eventually de-commissioned the chatbot.

Fast forward two decades later, we now live in a world where many people have smart speakers in their kitchens to set timers and add groceries to their shopping lists. Everybody with a smartphone has access to at least one digital assistant that can perform web searches or pull up information simply by asking a question. Apple has Siri, Samsung has Bixby, Amazon has Alexa, and Google has Google Assistant. A good percentage of us probably have a little bit of fun the first couple of days after being introduced to these smart assistants, and then the novelty dies. Personally, Alexa just dims the living room lights and tells me the weather, Google gives me directions in the car, and Siri keeps track of my grocery list. I’m not expecting much out of these digital assistants, and that seems to be the general consensus for most normal people.

Modern AI – Passing Trend or New Normal?

But today, we are living through an AI revolution—a renaissance where computers are almost smart enough to do our jobs for us, as long as your job is extremely specific to a small handful of things, like generating images or producing text that doesn’t need to be especially creative. This seems negative, but with all cutting-edge technologies these days, there are people who are going to take unintended advantages of it as quickly as possible to show off the inherent problems with the technology. 

Take cryptocurrency—while not related to AI in any way, it is a groundbreaking technology that has a lot of potential, but the last few years have shown us that cybercriminals and online grifters are much better at figuring out what to do with an emerging technology than the general public or business sector. Most people associate cryptocurrency with either ransomware attacks or weird collectible drawings of apes (depending on how much time you spend on Twitter), as opposed to the same technology being used to secure healthcare records.

AI is proving to be the same case. AI on its own isn’t a bad thing, and we think there is a lot of potential for businesses and hope that small businesses can reap the benefits, but at the same time, we are wary, because we just watched multiple industries fall to their knees over the summer because (to drastically simplify it) Hollywood execs wanted to replace writers with artificial intelligence.

AI is being used to help scam artists seem more convincing, it’s helping cybercriminals find vulnerabilities to exploit, and it’s helping people generate misinformed content. Some major publications like Forbes, the Washington Post, Bloomberg, Sports Illustrated, and Buzzfeed are using AI, and in some cases publishing content that isn’t written by human journalists. There is a growing ring of sellers on Amazon who produce cheap children’s books written and illustrated by artificial intelligence. 

It’s an interesting time, to say the least.

This isn’t the AI revolution that science fiction books and films anticipated, but in many ways, it’s happening faster and seemingly as recklessly as anything from the Terminator films. 

At the same time, I’m here to tell you that AI is going to change your business, and help you get a whole lot more done in shorter amounts of time. Yes, we’ll all need to be increasingly vigilant because bad actors are only going to get better at using this technology, and yes, we will probably have to navigate a world with cringy AI-generated pop songs and news reports. With all that said, a business that can embrace some of the capabilities AI can bring will be able to make more informed decisions, identify issues faster, communicate better, and make shifts in processes easier than ever before.

The Current Limits of ChatGPT

Without getting too technical, ChatGPT is a piece of software that has been trained by reading vast amounts of text on the Internet. It read books, and websites, sifted through news articles, scrolled through social media sites and Reddit, and more. Its information generally stops in 2021, although the paid version has limited access to information from beyond that year. ChatGPT can’t generate images or videos (although there are other controversial AI generators that do this), so you are limited to text.

ChatGPT isn’t creative. It isn’t going to write you a screenplay better than Aaron Sorkin, or make you a better fantasy author than Brandon Sanderson. In fact, it’s not going to get you marginally close. All ChatGPT can do is make connections and piece those connections together in relatively plain English. If you ask it to write you a story about two star-crossed lovers, it has plenty of resources to use, but at the end of the day, it’s not going to have quite the same heart and soul that a professional author will have. 

ChatGTP also makes mistakes. It isn’t an omnipotent superbrain that is always correct. It gathers information from the Internet. 

What is ChatGPT Good For?

Your Personal Content Editor: If you don’t consider yourself the best writer, ChatGPT can help you formulate emails and quick messages as long as you provide it with enough context. Need to get a quick announcement out on your website? Give ChatGPT the details and it will spit it out in a way that generally reads well, although it might need some tweaking. 

Just remember, you need to give it enough details in your prompt so it can do a good job for you.

Summarize Complex Information: You can feed ChatGPT several pages of information and ask it to summarize it for you. It can also explain complex topics in plain English, or translate information for you. Again, it might not always be perfect, but if you want to drop in meeting notes and ask ChatGPT to give you the general gist, it can make it happen.

Write and Debug Code: While ChatGPT isn’t a replacement for an actual developer, if you are a developer, ChatGPT can be a great assistant. ChatGPT can debug code and suggest fixes for issues.

Combat Writer’s Block: If you are trying to write a blog post, brochure, or presentation, and you need some help coming up with topics or talking points, ChatGPT is pretty good at coming up with ideas. It’s really good at understanding connections, so if you need to write about a certain topic at length, it should be able to come up with terms and subtopics that fall under that umbrella.

Solve Complex Math Problems: I wish I had this in high school. Give ChatGPT a word problem and it will walk you through the steps to solve it.

Use It Instead of Google: Since ChatGPT is essentially just pulling content it reads from the Internet, using it in place of Google might get you some interesting results. For example, ask it for recipes, or the best way to increase the amount of potassium in your diet. 

Break Down Complex Tasks: Sometimes, ChatGPT can be a pretty good brainstorming partner. Let’s say you have a conference coming up; you can ask ChatGPT to give you a checklist of things you should prepare for. It’s never going to be perfect, but it gets you started and gives you something you can adjust and make your own.

AI Isn’t Your Next Employee, But It Can Be Your Personal Assistant

Fortunately, we probably don’t have to worry about AI writing the next batch of Marvel movies or replacing our favorite comedians and authors, but the world is already seeing it take over things like customer service, online chat, and even some journalism. Still, the true power of AI right now is helping all of us become a little more efficient at what we do.

There’s certainly a learning curve to all of this, and becoming good at giving AI the right prompts to get you the best results takes time and practice. Still, understanding the strengths and limitations of ChatGPT and other tools can go a long way.

Do you plan on using ChatGPT for your business? Do you need help making sense of modern software to get the most out of it? If so, give us a call at (505)242-5683 for assistance.

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