Last week in this space, I brought you a post about ChatGPT written entirely by ChatGPT. If you missed it, you can read it here. Before November of 2022, nobody ever heard of ChatGPT. Now, you see articles everywhere you look. How do you feel about its capabilities? How are you or how will you use it?
Are you worried you’ll be replaced by artificial intelligence? That’s not likely, at least not for the foreseeable future. The more real danger is that you will be replaced by someone who knows how to use modern technology such as artificial intelligence.
What did you think about the quality of the writing?
My experience with ChatGPT is that it composes mediocre prose quickly. So, if being mediocre is the goal, letting artificial intelligence do it for you is a good answer. That was my feeling about the article ChatGPT composed for me. One thing I noticed was the answer did not even tell how to create an account. That’s a pretty large omission. You can create a free account at https://chat.openai.com and start having fun.
Don’t start with a blank page
The article ChatGPT wrote for me was less than inspiring. However, it handles a hurdle writers of all ages face: the blank page.
For a writer, the blank page is the enemy. The hardest part about writing is getting started. That’s why writers are told to go ahead and slog through the terrible first draft. From there, you go back and edit.
ChatGPT gets us past the blank page in a hurry. The mediocre draft will likely provide some relevant points we had not considered. As long as we use artificial intelligence to inspire thought rather than do creative work for us, we have something that can reduce drudgery and let us spend more time on higher-level thought.
What are some good use cases?
Think about the last time you were composing an email response and could not figure out a way to reduce the harsh tone. Try pasting your draft response into ChatGPT with the instructions, “Rewrite in the language of non-violent communication.” If you feel your writing sounds too complicated, paste your prose into ChatGPT with the instructions, “Explain it to me like I’m a 5th grader.”
Need to write anything from a thank-you note to a letter of resignation? Describe the circumstances to ChatGPT and watch the results. Modify what you get to fit your needs. But again, you’re no longer stuck on a blank page.
Do you need help finding the right Excel formula? Explain the scenario to ChatGPT. Watch it supply the formula you need in seconds. Are you experiencing an error with a formula or with software code? Paste it into ChatGPT and you’ll be amazed. This area is one where artificial intelligence excels.
Plan a trip with ChatGPT
Need help with planning an outing? I entered, “Plan a one-day tour of Birmingham, Alabama.” ChatGPT responded:
Sure! Here’s a one-day itinerary for a tour of Birmingham, Alabama:
9:00 AM – Start your day at the Birmingham Botanical Gardens. The gardens cover 67.5 acres and include over 30 thematic gardens, including a Japanese garden, rose garden, and a Southern Living garden. Take a stroll through the gardens and enjoy the beautiful scenery.
11:00 AM – Next, head over to the Civil Rights District to learn about the important role Birmingham played in the Civil Rights Movement. Visit the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute to see exhibits and artifacts from the movement, and take a walk around the nearby Kelly Ingram Park to see sculptures and memorials dedicated to the movement.
1:00 PM – For lunch, check out Saw’s Soul Kitchen, a local favorite for barbecue. Try the pulled pork sandwich or the smoked chicken wings.
2:30 PM – After lunch, visit the Sloss Furnaces National Historic Landmark. This former iron-making facility is now a museum and park where you can learn about the city’s industrial past.
4:00 PM – Take a short drive to Vulcan Park and Museum, where you can see the world’s largest cast iron statue and learn about Birmingham’s history as an iron-producing city. Take the elevator to the top of the statue for a panoramic view of the city.
6:00 PM – Finish the day with dinner at Highlands Bar and Grill, one of the best restaurants in the city. The menu features Southern-inspired cuisine with a French twist.
That’s a packed day, but it should give you a good overview of the history, culture, and food of Birmingham.
Write a poem with ChatGPT
For fun, do you need a quick poem or song lyrics? I entered, “Write a poem in the style of Robert Frost for the middle school band class.” ChatGPT began to compose:
The middle school band is tuning up,
Each instrument its own unique cup,
Of sound and tone and melody,
Creating music that sets us free.
The clarinets, they trill and hum,
As if to beckon the beat of a drum,
The trumpets blare with all their might,
Piercing the air, a brilliant sight.
The flutes, they float like butterflies,
Whispering notes that softly rise,
The saxophones, they sway and swing,
Their soulful melodies take wing.
And in the midst of all this sound,
The conductor, his arms abound,
Guiding us through each note and phrase,
Until the music swells and sways.
We may stumble and we may miss,
But together we create bliss,
In the middle school band we find,
A harmony that leaves us blind.
Blind to the world that surrounds,
Lost in the music, we’re unbound,
And when the final notes are played,
We know the magic will never fade.
So let us play with all our might,
In this middle school band delight,
And may the music we create,
Echo on, and never abate.
Compose sample data with ChatGPT
Our days include mundane tasks. Suppose you have to put together a sample data set. Instead of slogging through composing the sample data, enter into ChatGPT something like, “Compose sample grades for a class of twenty students who have 15 grades each.” This request produced interesting results and illustrates how you can converse with ChatGPT to refine your request.
My request produced the scores in rows with grades separated by commas. What I really wanted was a grid that looked like a teacher gradebook. So, I clicked the “stop generating” button and entered in the command window, “put it in chart form.”
ChatGPT added that information to what I had asked before and produced this:
But I really wanted the students to have names, so I again clicked “stop generating” and entered, “give the students fake names.” I was a little disappointed when the result was only a list of names and no grades.
So, I said, “but include those names in the chart.” ChatGPT then gave me what I originally wanted.
Even with this back-and-forth clarification, I spent far less time having ChatGPT create the fake data than if I had composed it myself.
How could a businessperson use ChatGPT?
To answer that question, let’s ask ChatGPT…
One final example
Go back to the post I wrote on “May Madness.” I composed it as audio for someone’s site long before podcasts were everywhere. I wanted to bring it back as a blog post, but I don’t have the written text…only the audio. I fired up Otter on my phone and hit “play” on the audio and “record” on Otter.
Otter’s transcription of the words is great, but it runs everything together as one giant paragraph, and some punctuations are left off. I copied the result and pasted it into ChatGPT with the instructions to divide the writing into paragraphs and improve the quality of the writing. I pasted the results into Evernote to work on from there.
Trust but verify
One caution is that ChatGPT has been known to give incorrect or incomplete answers. You get no citations, so you have no idea where the information is coming from. While ChatGPT is great for giving us ideas, it’s our responsibility to do our own fact-checking.
This post gives you just a few ideas. As you read other articles, jot down the use cases that make sense to you.
We would never expect a hammer to build a house, but that hammer is a valuable tool for the person who has a vision for how to build the house and needs some help will pounding a nail. If you have a vision for your life and find yourself getting caught up in small details, ChatGPT may just be one of the items for your tool chest.
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