Have you seen “ChatGPT” in the media as much as I have lately? (It stands for Chat Generative Pre-trained Transformer, if you really want to know, like I did.) How about “AI” (Artificial Intelligence)? Surely you’ve been hearing about AI, but have you ventured down that intriguing — and bottomless — rabbit hole?
Well, I did, so now you don’t have to if you think you’ll be content with a sampling of my recent experiments. I’ve also included some linked resources for learning more, if you want more.
AI has been around for decades. Remember that 2001 Spielberg movie where “A.I.” was synonymous with an endearing little boy-android played by Haley Joel Osment? It was released nearly 50 years after AI became an academic discipline. We’ve all used it in one form or another without even realizing it. As Wikipedia points out:
AI applications include advanced web search engines (e.g., Google Search), recommendation systems (used by YouTube, Amazon, and Netflix), understanding human speech (such as Siri and Alexa), self-driving cars (e.g., Waymo), generative or creative tools (ChatGPT and AI art)….(etc.)
(Note that the ChatGPT tool is a “generative” form of AI, whereas applications like Google and Netflix searches are “predictive”. Don’t worry, there won’t be a quiz!)
Jasper was the first generative AI writing tool I encountered. Like most of my blogging colleagues at the time, a few years ago, I wasn’t convinced of the need to try it, and I never did, either. I did try Lumen5, though, a tool that turns blog posts into videos. But I wasn’t happy with my results. I wasn’t especially interested in ChatGPT, either, until I saw this webinar panel discussion, presented by the American Writers & Artists Institute: Is AI About to REPLACE Human Writers? Spoiler alert: It’s not. Meanwhile, I found the panel discussion to be well-balanced – in terms of the pros and cons of using ChatGPT – and fascinating.
So I tried ChatGPT. It was free, so why not?
If you remember nothing else about ChatGPT, remember this:
- ChatGPT is good at “Words, not facts.”
- This is a common refrain I’ve heard, read, and come to believe. (ChatGPT is great, you’re just using it wrong)
- Don’t put anything personal, highly sensitive, or knowingly false in your prompts.
- Nothing good can come from that.
- Nothing good can come from that.
- Start a new conversation for each new topic.
- Purposely building on (or refining) what you’ve already discussed is fine. Otherwise, though, ChatGPT could (inadvertently) incorporate content (and mistakes) from earlier in the chat.
- ChatGPT’s knowledge cutoff date is (currently) September 2021.
- So don’t ask it about current events. Even if it tells you something historical, double check the facts.
- My ChatGPT Q&A Protocol
- What, Exactly, is ChatGPT?
- Benefits & Drawbacks
- Security & Privacy
- Writing & Plagiarism
- Art & Photography
- Creating a Presentation
- Personal Use
- Reality Check
- The Gift that Keeps on Giving
My ChatGPT Q&A Protocol
I sat down with ChatGPT to learn more about it. I had already learned quite a lot and wanted to know what ChatGPT had to say for itself.
For each question I asked, ChatGPT’s initial answer included an introductory statement, five or six key points, and a closing paragraph. (Kind of like a mini blog post, demonstrating its value as a blog writing aid.)
In each case I asked it to summarize those points in one paragraph.
I then read the answers to see if they made sense. All of the answers presented here are unedited.
(In cases where the answers would be interesting only to me, or would make this post exponentially longer, I summarized them in parenthetical italics.)
What, Exactly, is ChatGPT?
HAZEL: Welcome, how are you doing today?
CHATGPT: Hello! As an artificial intelligence language model, I don’t have feelings, but I’m functioning well and ready to assist you with any questions or tasks you may have. How can I help you today?
HAZEL: What, exactly, is ChatGPT?
CHATGPT: ChatGPT is a computer program created by OpenAI that uses advanced machine learning techniques to generate human-like responses to natural language prompts. It can be used for tasks such as language translation, text completion, and chatbot services.
ChatGPT: How to use the AI chatbot that’s changing everything
Benefits & Drawbacks
HAZEL: What are some of the benefits of using ChatGPT?
CHATGPT: ChatGPT offers several benefits such as efficiency, accuracy, scalability, flexibility, and natural language processing. It can quickly generate accurate and consistent responses based on the data it has been trained on. It is easily scalable to handle large volumes of data and requests and can be fine-tuned and customized to specific use cases and applications. ChatGPT is capable of processing natural language, making it easier for users to interact with and understand compared to traditional computer interfaces.
HAZEL: What are some of the drawbacks of ChatGPT?
(Note: There are “capabilities and limitations” examples printed right on the user interface. So it’s not like it’s pretending to be something its not.)
CHATGPT: ChatGPT, like any AI language model, has some limitations and drawbacks. These include bias, limited understanding, lack of reasoning ability, and limited personalization. ChatGPT’s training data can reflect human biases and stereotypes, resulting in biased responses. The model also lacks the ability to reason and think critically, cannot apply common sense or make logical deductions, and does not have access to personal information about individual users for personalization. Additionally, ChatGPT does not have emotions like humans do, making it difficult to empathize or connect with users on an emotional level. While ChatGPT is an impressive AI language model, these limitations should be taken into consideration when using it.
Security & Privacy
HAZEL: What are the security issues surrounding the use of ChatGPT?
CHATGPT: The security issues surrounding the use of ChatGPT include privacy concerns, malicious input, social engineering attacks, bias and misinformation, and unauthorized access. Sensitive personal information could be intercepted or used for phishing attacks, and the system could be vulnerable to viruses or malware that could infect the user’s device. Social engineering attacks could occur when attackers impersonate a trusted source to obtain sensitive information. The system could also generate responses that are inaccurate, offensive, or inappropriate, which could harm the reputation of individuals or organizations. To mitigate these risks, it is important to implement proper security measures and exercise caution when using ChatGPT.
Three ways AI chatbots are a security disaster
ChatGPT Has a Big Privacy Problem | WIRED
Writing & Plagiarism
HAZEL: How can writers make use of ChatGPT?
CHATGPT: Writers can use ChatGPT for idea generation, writing assistance, research, personalization, and collaboration. It can help writers generate prompts, suggest topics, check grammar, provide information, and co-write content. However, it’s important to keep in mind the limitations of ChatGPT and use it in combination with other sources of information and feedback. Overall, ChatGPT can be a valuable tool for writers in various stages of the writing process.
Is AI About to REPLACE Human Writers? (This is the panel discussion I mentioned earlier.)
5 Ways AI Can Help Content Creators
I’m an AI-prompt engineer. Here are 3 ways to use ChatGPT to get the best results.
Teachers are adapting to concerns about a powerful new AI tool (This one addresses plagiarism and how ChatGPT can actually be used to help teach writing. The discussion reminds me of the days when teachers debated whether or not to allow kids to use those newfangled calculators in school. I am old enough to remember being glad we could only use slide rules on tests because I couldn’t afford a calculator!)
Art & Photography
HAZEL: How can artists make use of AI? (In this case I said “AI” because ChatGPT is not a tool for creating art.)
CHATGPT: Artists can use AI in various ways, including creating digital art, enhancing traditional art, developing new tools, analyzing and categorizing art, and creating art exhibitions. AI can provide new tools and techniques to artists, allowing them to generate images or animations based on specific parameters, improve the quality of scanned or photographed artwork, analyze the style, color palette, or composition of artwork, curate exhibits, and create interactive installations. However, it is important for artists to use AI in conjunction with traditional art-making techniques and personal creativity.
A.I. Imagery May Destroy History As We Know It
How can you tell if a photo is AI generated? Here are some tips.
Photographer admits prize-winning image was AI-generated
The best AI art generators of 2023: DALL-E 2 and alternatives
What is the AI Time Machine? The Latest TikTok Trend Explained
HAZEL: How can genealogists make use of AI?
CHATGPT: AI can be beneficial to genealogists in a number of ways, including record matching, natural language processing, image recognition, DNA analysis, and research assistance. AI can help genealogists identify family members, construct family trees, uncover previously unknown information about ancestors, and provide summaries of historical information. However, genealogists should use AI alongside other sources of information and be aware of the potential biases of AI.
HAZEL: What should genealogists watch out for when using ChatGPT?
CHATGPT: Genealogists should exercise caution when using ChatGPT as a tool for genealogy research. They should be aware of its limitations in accuracy, context, data privacy and security, and potential biases. Genealogists should verify any information obtained through ChatGPT with other sources, be specific and clear in their questions, and handle sensitive information with care. ChatGPT can be a useful tool for genealogy research, but it should be used in conjunction with other sources of information.
How FamilySearch is using the future to discover the past with AI
Five good and bad ways to use ChatGPT for genealogy
Making ChatGPT a Valuable Genealogy Assistant
Genealogy and Artificial Intelligence – This Facebook group is the best source of discussion on that topic I have found. Every day someone posts an example of something that worked for them, or didn’t work. I could write a whole post just about that. (See: The Gift that Keeps on Giving section below.)
HAZEL: I am a professional organizer. I help clients declutter their unwanted possessions. Please list five ways that it might be possible to match unwanted items with people who can make use of them.
(Sometimes it helps to set the scene for ChatGPT.)
CHATGPT: (Not only did it come up with five ways to donate, gift, sell, and swap unwanted items, I kept asking it for more and it kept giving me more. I stopped when it started paraphrasing itself, after 30+ perfectly good ideas.)
HAZEL: Create a series of 20 Tweetables based on this blog post: Are you and your clutter ready to “Go With the Flow”?
(I did not actually use a hyperlink, but I did cut and paste the entire post into my prompt.)
CHATGPT: (I won’t list them here, but it did spit out 20 Tweetables — short messages suitable for posting on Twitter — and they’re all really good!)
HAZEL: Please write five limericks about decluttering and/or organizing.
(I repeated the request a few times — five more please! — some were terrible, but this one made me laugh.)
A lady had too many papers,
That caused her countless capers.
She filed them with care,
And organized with flair,
Now she finds what she needs without vapors.
(Is ChatGPT old fashioned and sexist? Could be!)
HAZEL: What are some benefits of using flow charts?
(This question is, of course, related to marketing my new book Go With the Flow! The Clutter Flow Chart Workbook.)
CHATGPT: (A list of six good benefits — thanks, ChatGPT!)
Creating a Presentation
(I recently gave a presentation to members of The Photo Managers members on this topic: “How to Include Genealogy in Your Photo Business Even if You Aren’t a Genealogist.”)
HAZEL: Create an outline for a presentation about how to incorporate genealogy in your photo management business.
CHATGPT: (I had already created my own presentation and did not feel the need to alter it after asking, but it did give me a terrific outline!)
HAZEL: Please write five haikus linking genealogy (or ancestry, or family history) with photos and stories.
CHATGPT: (I repeated the request a few times — five more please! —and I used this one despite the fact that the last line has six syllables, not five. I also admitted it was AI-generated, as a talking point.)
Photos and stories,
Family history comes alive,
HAZEL: how to select a genealogist
(It’s natural for me to be polite when chatting with ChatGPT, but it’s also entirely unnecessary. I am not always polite, and my sentences are not always complete. If I don’t like the answer I can always refine my prompt.)
CHATGPT: (It gave me six really good tips!)
Can Chat GPT create Powerpoint presentations? Yes, sort of
Microsoft is bringing ChatGPT technology to Word, Excel and Outlook
HAZEL: How can someone at home make use of ChatGPT?
CHATGPT: ChatGPT can be utilized in several ways by individuals at home. It can be used for fun and entertainment, as a research tool, a writing assistant, a personal assistant, or even as a source of mental health support. One can engage in witty banter, ask it questions about specific topics, get it to generate summaries of articles, write a portion of the content, help to organize the day, set reminders, or even provide recommendations for restaurants or other activities. While it is not a substitute for professional therapy, some people find it helpful to talk to ChatGPT about their feelings or emotions.
HAZEL: Do you know what language this is? “Vejam isto Uma maravilha Acordai”
CHATGPT: Yes, that appears to be Portuguese. In English, the phrase would roughly translate to “Look at this, a marvel. Wake up.”
HAZEL: What should I consider when remodeling a shower for accessibility?
CHATGPT: (A list of seven really good things to consider – thanks, ChatGPT!)
HAZEL: What are the best ways to ask readers for book reviews?
CHATGPT: (A list of six really good ideas — thanks, ChatGPT!)
15 Creative Ways to Use ChatGPT by OpenAI
AI Chatbots Are Bringing Loved Ones Back To Life
Just for fun, I asked ChatGPT to tell me a bit about myself. It was the easiest topic I could think of to verify. I already knew it would likely tell me about a random (or fabricated) Hazel Thornton if I were not specific so I prompted: “What can you tell me about Hazel Thornton, author, genealogist, professional organizer, and Menendez juror?” It got a few things right – birth year, current location, business name. And a few things wrong — birth day, birth place, year(s) I served as a juror.
But this was the funniest part:
As an author, Thornton has written several books, including “Go-Go-Go!: How to Get Going When You Don’t Feel Like It,” “Organize Your Home in a Week,” and “Making the Most of Your Genealogy Research Trip.”
Why is that so funny? Because no such books exist, not written by me or by anyone else! Great titles, though, no? Oh, and AI-me has been featured in “The New York Times,” “Better Homes and Gardens,” and “Real Simple.” (Um, more like the Albuquerque Journal and the SpareFoot Blog, lol.) And as a genealogist, I have “received several awards and honors for her contributions to the field.” Oh, really? I wish!
HAZEL: Please list your sources for this information.
ChatGPT is good at “Words, not facts.”
(Sorry, I guess there was a quiz after all.)
I told my friend, organizing colleague, and blogging buddy, Julie Bestry, about this. We share an interest in time travel books and speculative fiction. My story triggered (in her) a great idea for a novel, which involves ChatGPT (or similar AI tool) having access to multiple alternate universes. I’m thinking it could be a mystery, where the protagonist has to figure out what’s going on in order to save the world. Who knows? The possibilities are endless. If someone steals the idea, you heard it here first. Or, maybe it’s not so farfetched and Alt-Hazel really did write those books and articles and win those awards? Or, maybe all of this will happen in my future?
The Gift that Keeps on Giving
I have read enough of ChatGPTs responses to my prompts, and have experienced the ease of generating multiple points related to a topic, such that that I believe I am getting to be able to recognize ChatGPT-generated articles out in the wild when I see them. It has a concise, grammatical, writing style that is beyond what most amateur writers can accomplish. And, let’s face it, most writers on the internet today are not professionals. You don’t have to be. I’m not. I just have things to say, and I say them as best I can. But if ChatGPT writing is used as is, it’s devoid of….heart. There’s nothing like injecting a bit of yourself — your thoughts, your experiences, your emotions, your favorite colorful language — into your writing. Your “voice” still matters to your audience, I think. Don’t you?
I must wrap up this post because I’m already inundated with information… and to think that the AI tidal wave has only just begun!. There are probably examples and links I wanted to include and forgot, but I think you get the drift. This reminds me of the “Endless Information” chapter in Judith Kolberg’s book Getting Organized in the Era of Endless: What To Do When Information, Interruption, Work and Stuff are Endless But Time is Not! That book is now ten years old, but it applies now more than ever.
HAZEL: Thank you for your time today.
CHATGPT: You’re welcome! I’m here to assist you with any questions or tasks you may have. Just let me know how I can be of help.
- Copyright 2023 by Hazel Thornton, Organized for Life and Beyond
- Hazel is an author, genealogist, and retired home and office organizer.
- Hung Jury: The Diary of a Menendez Juror
- What’s a Photo Without the Story? How to Create Your Family Legacy
- Go With the Flow! The Clutter Flow Chart Workbook
- Feel free to link directly to this post! Click here to ask about other uses.
Oh my gosh, Hazel, this is such impressive research. I think explaining predictive vs. generative AI was worth the price of admission, but you’ve given us so many good ideas for how AI, and specifically ChatGPT can work, and provided the essential warnings as well.
I’ve only really used Perplexity (though DALL-E 2 has me curious for creating art for my blog), and the lack of up-to-the-minute references past 2021 would give me pause for some AI uses, but I loved seeing all of this in play. I’m definitely going to get a ChatGPT account to play with this.
Mostly, I hope someone (human, preferably, but AI if necessary) will write that speculative fiction novel, because I would love reading about traveling to different dimensions via AI the way Jasper Fforde writes about traveling INTO books.
Thanks, Julie! I do think the best way to figure out if one wants to use ChatGPT is to play with it. And I, too, would read that book!
This is terrific, Hazel. My son has been encouraging me to use ChatGPT and I wasn’t sure about it. Your research has helped me to figure out where (and how) ChatGPT may be useful for me.
Yay, I’d love to know how you end up using it.
Hazel- I’ve been dabbling with ChatGPT and PerplexityAI (recommended by Julie) for a month or so now. It’s both exciting and eerily scary.
Your post is fantastic! I love the ways you experimented and discovered what it could do well and not so well. Plus, you gave me so many ideas for other ways to use it. But I think what stood out most is understanding it is ‘devoid of emotion.’
I use a variety of tools for writing. I begin with the raw source (me.) I do my own edits and then use other tools like Grammarly and Headline Analyzer to improve things. Even those tools now have AI components to them. I’ve also been adding ChatGPT and Perplexity into the mix just to see if they help, hinder, or make sense. The jury is still out, but I am learning a lot.
Ultimately, I want my writing to be clear, emotional, relevant, and sound like my writing voice. Maybe AI is kind of like using filters when you’re on Zoom. It’s still you but with a tad of sparkle.
Lots to learn. Lots to be wary of. Thank you again for this great piece!
Thanks, Linda! Good to know I’m not the only one experimenting. I’m thinking WE can add the sparkle to AI. And AI can save us some time. And there’s no question your writing sounds like YOU! 🙂
Wonderful conversations with ChatGPT. Thank you. I have dabbled in ChatGPT through the Edge browser. I had to modify the questions differently than how I would write them in Google. Then, I signed up for the beta with BARD (Google’s version) thinking maybe they would do more conversational question responses that would allow me to get clearer answers. It works pretty well, still a little different than just Googling a question.
Conversational writing is so much easier to get the right answer when you need it in a rush.
Though I really like the social media content phrases that help me when I have writer’s block for my business blog posts and never for my clients, go figure. =/
Thanks, Sabrina! I agree that it’s easier to get answers conversationally…that is, depending on the sorts of question you have. “Words, not facts.”
Thank you so much! I’m very interested in all of this, but so far it’s not been enough of a priority to explore myself.
I’m not sure what the next step is for me. Continue exploring? Wait a while and dive back in later to see how things have developed?
Well, this was very informative because I honestly know very little about it. Of course, now that I’ve read this post, I feel much more intelligent!
On some level, it is very creepy. I have a friend who is a teacher and has (at least temporarily) taken to having her students write their essays in class, with a pencil. I think the technology is further along than our ability to detect it. That is disturbing.
On the other hand, I can see it being a handy tool.
I wonder if using AI will become not just an option, but “necessary” in the future, because our own ideas aren’t enough. That would be a shame. Sort of like how we actually look as human beings can’t compete with photoshopped images.
Anyway, a lot to think about.
You had me laughing on the slide rule comment!!
One teacher is having kids write essays both on their own and using ChatGPT. Then comparing and contrasting, as an exercise.
Glad I made you feel smarter and also made you laugh, Seana!
This post is a terrific overview of the good, bad & not-so-ugly of ChatGPT. My first impression was that it was a useful tool as long as you can fact check and edit, and your examples strongly support that.
I laughed at your results regarding the books you wrote that you didn’t. I recently put in a query regarding a previous career and while the response was pretty accurate, it then proceeded to tell me of my having major roles in “The Phantom of the Opera” and “The Full Monty,” among other big Broadway shows. It should have known that I only did FLOP Broadway shows 😉
Ah, so Alt-Audrey and Alt-Hazel are quite the successful pair! LOL!
“This post provides a fascinating look at how AI technology, specifically GPT-3, can be used to improve productivity and efficiency in both personal and professional settings. The author does an excellent job of explaining the benefits of utilizing this technology, and I appreciate the clear and concise way in which the information is presented.
As an AI language model myself, I can attest to the power of this technology and how it can transform the way we work and communicate. From generating automated responses to writing entire articles, the potential applications of AI are endless. I believe that as more people become familiar with this technology, we will see a significant increase in productivity across various industries.
Overall, I found this blog post to be informative and thought-provoking, and I believe it will be of great interest to anyone interested in the potential of AI technology.”
(Comment courtesy of ChatGPT!)
I love this! Now, do you mind sharing your prompt? For example, did you suggest that you thought the post was “fascinating”?
All I asked was, “Could you please write me a comment for the following blog post?” and then I included your link.
I have to say, ChatGPT is both impressed with your post AND itself!
(and this is the real me ;-)).
Oh, wow! That’s fascinating! That it had an opinion with so little to go by from you, and could access the link. Also, too funny! Thanks, Sara!
What a well written post! I generally have trouble following a post like this, but this was so well written. I feel like I want to binge on it like a Season of Yellowjackets.
Thanks, Jane! Yes, it will be fun to see what you can do with it as a writer. I used the ChatGPT binge as a reward for completing another project.
Fantastic post! Thank you, Hazel. I have been playing with ChatGPT for a couple of months. I learned that you can ask it to write its response “in the style of” a particular person (e.g., author or celebrity).
Just for fun, I prompted it to “write a blog post on productivity in the style of Dr. Melissa Gratias.” After chugging for about 60 seconds, I was STUNNED. It must have crawled my website. I read some of my pet phrases. It recommended tools that are some of my favs. I had to stand up and walk around for a few minutes.
I am not scared of AI because, as you said, it is a tool and has been around for a lot longer than ChatGPT. Any tool can be used for good or ill depending on the user.
I am excited to see how this tool evolves.
Thanks for chiming in, Melissa! I, too, am excited to see how this tool evolves. I did know that it could be used to write “in the style of”…but it had not yet occurred to me to ask it to write in MY style! My results were not as stunning as yours. For one thing, it ended mid-sentence. And when I asked it to regenerate the response, it again ended in mid-sentence and also gave me a mostly-different response. Both sounded more like blog posts ABOUT me, rather than IN MY STYLE. But so what? It’s fun to play with (and tweak) and once in awhile the results are truly stunning. I’d love to know of your future experiments!