Discover more from A Human in the Loop
What good is ChatGPT if someone who doesn't know how to use it?
5 Essentials to Approaching AI -- We dropped the ball teaching people how to use the internet. We can avoid the same mistake by going back to the basics.
If you were an old-school lumberjack skilled with an axe, what would you do if I gave you a chainsaw – which you have never seen before?
Would you welcome the upgrade or resist the change?
Would you need a tutorial or figure it out on your own? <yikes>
Whatever the approach, it’s hard to deny that the chainsaw is going to increase the amount of wood you would be able to cut in less time — saving your back in the process. Right?
I asked ChatGPT the same question, and here was its response:
I’d approach the chainsaw with a blend of curiosity and caution, arming myself with the necessary knowledge and skills before making it a part of my lumberjacking repertoire. Major takeaway? Always adapt, but do it wisely. Action item: Invest time in training before integrating new tools into established workflows.
Learning a new tool can be overwhelming, time-consuming, and scary. However, dedicating time to learn how to use it correctly while also becoming cognizant of its pitfalls can increase productivity, saving you time and effort while mitigating risk.
So, what is ChatGPT if you don’t know how to use it?
Regardless of today’s headline — because I’m sure there is one — let's start with the most important thing you should know about AI:
AI is neither the hero nor the villain in this story. It is a tool made by humans, programmed by humans, and just like humans, it isn’t perfect.
The thing about a tool is that you have to know what it is for and when to use it.
It can improve the output of your labor, like the chainsaw in the hands of a lumberjack.
It can also assist with all the tedious administrative tasks, like an intern, but you’ll need to give very detailed instructions and definitely check their work for errors.
Technology is a mirror, reflecting back at us our ambitions, fears, biases, and aspirations.
But is it a threat to humanity?
Is it going to take our jobs? Will it make Hollywood writers and actors obsolete?
What if AI's ability to instantly create art makes the creative process and the difficult emotions it can bring up in us, something we choose to avoid?
I guess that depends on how we choose to use it.
A recent study shows the accessibility of AI tools is leveling the playing field for professionals everywhere, improving the speed and efficiency of knowledge workers, making them more productive than if they didn’t utilize the tool.
The study analyzed the impact of GPT-4 on 758 consultants in partnership with Boston Consulting Group. The consultants were divided between top and lower performers, who all did similar tasks in their daily work.
When one of the 18 tasks given was within the AI’s capabilities, they found that AI improved productivity and quality of work. However, for tasks outside its capabilities, AI was less effective. This “Jagged Frontier” defines what AI is capable of and should be considered when deciding which tool to use for the job.
Consultants using AI finished 12.2% more tasks on average, completed tasks 25.1% more quickly, and produced 40% higher quality results than those without.
What I found most interesting is that under-performers who used AI experienced a significant productivity jump, coming close to the over-performers who didn’t do as well. The narrowing gap between these groups demonstrates that AI can be a powerful tool — elevating the underdog — when used for the right job.
The caveat is that the researchers also saw an increase in errors for the participants who used AI.
So, basically, the participants who viewed the AI as being the overlord instead of the intern had more errors and inaccuracies in their work.
Preparing for a New Frontier
Over-reliance on AI is like falling asleep at the wheel of a moving car (I see you, Tesla drivers 😠), increasing the potential for some big mistakes.
The more you use these AI tools, the more you experience errors and inaccuracies, not to mention the homogeneity of AI-generated outputs.
The increase in misinformation and disinformation continues to threaten our society, deteriorating trust like termites in the foundation of a house. We dropped the ball on teaching people how to use the internet — to think critically about where they go for information and what information is being shared.
Concerns about AI stealing jobs and spreading propaganda highlight the importance of educating ourselves on AI’s capabilities and limitations. If only to become an informed reader when the next click bate headline crosses our feed (basically all the time).
This a new frontier with vast potential. Do you feel prepared?
Here are 5 impactful ways to navigate the Jagged Technological Frontier as AI reshapes our world:
💡 1. Don’t unquestioningly trust AI-generated content!
Remember, AI is not the overlord; it’s the intern. An intern who wants to please you by never saying no to a request and making shit up instead of showing up empty-handed.
1/ Read before you share!
2/ Verify information using multiple sources.
3/ Foster a critical mindset with a healthy amount of skepticism.
🤖 2. Dive into AI-powered apps for practical learning.
If you’ve ever traveled to a foreign country, you know cultural immersion is the best approach to learning a new language, right?
So start exploring what’s out there! Learn the basics. You may discover something that could have a positive impact on the way you live and work. I use Grammarly, ChatGPT (obviously), Midjourney, and a few internet browser plug-ins daily.
As someone prone to analysis paralysis, these tools have spared me countless hours of rumination and allowed me to move through the overwhelm that would have prevented this article from seeing the light of day. We’re talking about a paralyzing anxiety I’ve felt since I was a kid sitting in class, biting my nails during my first writing assignment.
What has prevented you from writing that story or turning the image in your mind into something that everyone can see and enjoy?
There is no way you can learn about everything out there, especially when the landscape is constantly changing. Stat by diving deeper into what is relevant and disregard the rest — for now.
📚 3. Seek user-friendly AI courses and tutorials.
In the same way, everyone became an infectious disease expert early in the pandemic, there are a ton of voices (mine included) that have things to say about AI.
Avoid falling into an AI echo chamber by always being open to new insights from a variety of voices. Lately, I’ve been enjoying Cezary Gesikowski’s thoughtful and inspiring work.
If you need a bit more structure and human interaction, I highly recommend
Dror Poleg’s Hype-Free AI course (currently closed) for a guided exploration into AI’s current and future state. You’ll walk away feeling like an AI aficionado through engaging lectures, online discussions, and practical hands-on homework assignments.
Take 12 minutes to learn how to protect yourself from AI-power phishing attacks and scams: AI phishing attacks: What you need to know to protect your users
⚖️ 4. Remember the importance of ethics in AI.
Humans are building these models, and humans are inherently biased. Diversity of thought, cultural perspectives, and lived experiences must be integrated into the models.
Just like some people, who struggle with critical thinking, AI kinda sucks at incorporating context and nuance when generating responses.
Follow the people at the forefront of this work and actually read their work instead of making ChatGPT do it for you.
Sometimes, the best way to positively influence a system is from the inside. Are there opportunities to be part of the production of these models? Writers, poets, and artists of all kinds — I’m talking to you!
🔁 5. Explore AI’s practical relevance and potential for tomorrow
AI isn’t this new thing that appeared out of nowhere.
Voice assistants, your bank’s fraud detection, social media content moderators, facial recognition software, online support chatbots, and……self-driving cars 🙄 are all examples of AI that many of us come in contact with daily.
Re-examine how you’ve integrated these into your life and whether it was an intentional choice. In what ways have these things improved your life, if at all?
The AI train has left the station, and there is much to explore on this new jagged frontier. AI can be a tool that enhances our abilities, but it shouldn’t be a replacement that makes us passengers asleep the entire trip.
To harness its power responsibly and drive innovation, you can either jump aboard and actively participate in deciding where we go, or you can stay on the platform waiting for the next train.
I appreciate you taking the time to read my work. Let me know if you have questions that I can help you answer! I also invite my readers to share constructive feedback, and please let me know if you encounter any errors or omissions so that I can address the unintended mistake. — Eric, a human in the loop
Thanks for reading a human in the loop! Subscribe for free to receive new posts and support my work.