The pros and cons of using ChatGPT in your daily life

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Using artificial intelligence chatbots is not difficult. But in my experience, and maybe yours, chatbots are hard to use well

using effectively ChatGPT, Bing AI or Google Pea It's like learning a language with non-intuitive quirks.

My colleague Will Oremus spent many months trying, failing, and trying again to use ChatGPT to help him summarize information, brainstorm, and write.

Try for yourself what happens when you use a few tweaks to the chatbot, such as giving ChatGPT personal data about your friend to prepare a wedding toast.

Will said that one of the main lessons he's learned from his research and experiments is to change (or lower) our expectations of AI chatbots.

ChatGPT is less like a Magic 8 Ball that spits out the perfect answer and more like a brainstorming partner who is relentless but not that smart.

I spoke to Will to determine these dosages, not how you can get the most out of AI chatbots.

Don't use chatbots for factual responses

Google and Wikipedia aren't perfect, but they're good enough for reliable factual information most of the time.

“We're not talking to chatbots at this point,” Will said. “We're talking about a range of questions where AI will get it wrong.”

To paraphrase a programmer Simon WillisonWill said that AI chatbots give you an average or typical response from the information that the software has received from gazillions of websites. This average can be right – or wildly wrong.

And if the chatbot doesn't know the answer to the question “What is Shira Ovid's favorite food?” it can come up with a believable-sounding answer.

For questions with a known answer – the height of the Washington Monument or the biography of German Chancellor Olaf Scholz – use Google or Wikipedia, not ChatGPT.

Use chatbots to help you brainstorm

When Willie was planning an 8th birthday party for her son, she enlisted ChatGPT for help with the invitation — but not to write the outline.

Will knew that the artificial intelligence had obtained the children's party invitations from the Internet. He wanted to keep track of what all those party parents had done before.

One invitation wording suggested by ChatGPT said, Come to the party, there will be games, cake and prizes. “And I thought, ‘Do people give out prizes at birthday parties?'” Will said. (And they do.)

Will said that because chatbots have a large repository of people's past writing online, he started using ChatGPT to learn what other people were up to in the past for parties, scheduling soccer practice, and more.

Don't ask the chatbot once and stop

Chatbot experts know that the first response when you type, “How can I talk to my 8-year-old to get him to brush his teeth?” can be generic and unhelpful.

But Will said if you keep going back and forth, ChatGPT might come up with an idea.

“You're never sitting around waiting to type in your request, get a response, and be done,” Will said. “It should always be seen as an iterative process.”

When I asked the baby to brush the reassurance, Free, publicly available version of ChatGPT offered 12 suggestions. One of them was to tell your child a fun story about a “tooth superhero” who uses brushing to defeat monsters.

I wrote the following question: “What story can I tell you about Toothless Superheroes?”

The following chatbot responses were offered to a character named “Flora Flosser”. They weren't great, but they weren't bad.

I went back again and asked ChatGPT to do a story about a unicorn. The software brought back “Rinsewind the Rainbow Rinser,” a unicorn whose rainbow rinser was a shield to protect her teeth.

ChatGPT can offer you lots of (mostly terrible) ideas. There might be a germ of a good idea somewhere that you can run with.

That should be your expectation for ChatGPT, Will said.

He quoted the line From a 1990s Gin Blossoms song: “If you don't expect too much from me, you might not be disappointed.”

Know what the best chatbots are

Chatbots can be amazing at explaining complex topics like cryptocurrency like you're 5 years old.

To understand this power, it helps to know that the software is powered by archives from Reddit, including the forum so-called “Explain it like I'm five.”

(Reddit is not happy (That this was a free chatbot tutorial.)

Similarly, there are many recipes on the Internet. This makes ChatGPT good (but not perfect) when it comes to planning a personalized prescription.

When I typed in ChatGPT, “Offer seven dinner options that contain lots of legumes and lentils and can be prepared ahead of time,” I thought the options were solid.

These included a pepper salad with diced peppers, tomatoes and red onions with a lemon vinaigrette.

I asked ChatGPT to “make a shopping list of ingredients for the first four dishes” the AI ​​spit out. And so it happened.

But because chatbots combine small bits of online information in sometimes nonsensical ways, you shouldn't rely on AI recipe steps.

A chatbot might leave out an essential ingredient or tell you a dish is gluten-free when it isn't.

Again, you should treat ChatGPT less as a reliable cookbook and more as a meal planning brainstorming partner.

Don't get discouraged and don't give up

I was disappointed when I tried AI chatbots. The experience didn't make me want to spend time making technology work for me.

For example, I asked ChatGPT and Bing's AI to create an itinerary for my New Jersey beach vacation last spring. The suggestions were either obvious or so different from me that I would laugh at a friend making the same recommendations.

Will said that while chatbots are far from perfect and not great at everything, they are worth the investment of your time.

He said that five minutes of planning a trip with ChatGPT might give me some ideas for further research.

It doesn't turn AI into the magical personalized trip planner I want, but it's something.