By Marc Saltzman
With all the buzz surrounding “generative AI” and “large language models” in the tech world, no doubt you’ve heard of ChatGPT, the artificial intelligence-powered chatbot from the Silicon Valley company OpenAI.
ChatGPT is a web-based tool that is so hot, it’s become the fastest-growing consumer application in history—reaching 100 million users in just 60 days.
By comparison, it took Facebook about 4.5 years to reach 100 million users, Instagram 2.5 years, and TikTok about nine months.
So, what’s all the fuss about?
ChatGPT—which stands for Generative Pre-trained Transformer—is an “algorithmic AI chat system” trained on a colossal collection of internet-based resources, such as websites (like Wikipedia) and documents. It can provide a human-like text response to queries, in a second or two.
You can ask it to explain complex topics, summarize articles, or give you advice on something. It can also write a resume and cover letter, develop a business plan, and suggest how best to respond to an email from the boss. You can even ask it to solve math equations or even write lines of code for you. In other words, it’s the ultimate personal assistant. And yes, students are also leveraging ChatGPT to write essays and do other work for them, without any real risk of being caught by teachers and professors at this point.
ChatGPT is conversational, too, so you can keep the interaction going and it remembers what proceeded your question or comment.
Reasons for concern
While using ChatGPT is fast, fun and free (there’s also an optional $20/month premium version), it’s also a little scary when you consider have how advanced this is. Notable tech luminaries like Elon Musk have issuing warnings about our quick adoption of AI suggesting that it could “create an existential risk for humanity.”
Organizations like World Health Organization (WHO) are also cautioning about AI potentially dishing out misinformation (especially incorrect medical advice). Not only that but, AI exploited by malicious types, like hackers could wreak havoc on businesses and governments. And, of course, one of the ultimate concerns is that it may indeed replace human jobs.
Microsoft recently announced it had invested $10 billion into OpenAI—in part to give its Bing search engine a shot against Google Search—but at the same time- announced it was cutting 10,000 jobs, or about 5% of its global workforce. Hmm.
What’s more, other tech companies are racing to create or acquire their own ChatGPT-like technology. There’s Google Bard chat as well as Meta (formerly Facebook), Amazon, and collection of others. Heck, even Sam Altman, the chief executive of OpenAI, told US lawmakers in May that regulating artificial intelligence was essential.
Will ChatGPT or other kinds of AI conquer the world and enslave humankind like “Skynet” from The Terminator movies? I think not!
After all, generations before us witnessed similar outcry over the invention of the automobile, television, home computer, and, in our times, the Internet.
Regulation and/or legislation aside, AI is here to stay, and as a society we simply need to figure out how to best integrate it into our personal and professional lives, with the hope, of course, that most will use, rather than abuse it, for the common good.
With that in mind, whether you’re new to ChatGPT or have been using it for a couple of months, the following are a few things you can request that you might not have thought of.
Write a novel
“What’s one thing no one has asked you to do yet?” I asked ChatGPT.
“As an AI language model, I have been asked a wide range of questions,” it began, “but one thing that no one has asked me to do yet is to write a full-length novel from scratch!”
Naturally, I couldn’t resist after that prompt and I asked it to write a novel for me, after giving it a few parameters, such as setting the story in Massachusetts in the late 17th century and suggesting that the main character be a young girl falsely accused of being a witch.
Here’s a small sampling of the two chapters ChatGPT cranked out in one second for my book, “Shadows of Salem,” set in Boston in 1692. Not bad if I do say so myself even if I had to type “continue” more than a few times. Here’s a sample from the first few chapters. Wow, right?
Chapter 1: Accused: Abigail knew that she was different from the other girls in her village. She had always been drawn to the mystical and supernatural, secretly practicing spells and incantations under the moonlight. But in Salem, where the fear of witches was rampant, such behaviour was considered highly dangerous.
Chapter 2: Secrets: Samuel was a few years older than Abigail and had been a guiding force in her life. He had taken a special interest in her, sensing that she had a deep curiosity and intelligence that needed to be nurtured. Abigail had fallen in love with him, but she knew that their relationship could never be. As a devout Christian, Samuel would never be able to condone her interest in the supernatural.
“Good morning, Abigail,” Samuel said, his voice soft and reassuring. “Are you well?”
Cooking gets easier with ChatGPT dishing up recipes, preparation instructions, shopping lists and even themed dinner party suggestions.
Having fun with the site, I asked “What should I make my wife for dinner. She’s vegetarian but doesn’t like pasta.”
ChatGPT replied: “There are plenty of delicious vegetarian dinner options that don’t involve pasta. Here are a few ideas:”
Among suggestions for me; a) A vegetarian stir fry served over rice or quinoa. b) Portobello mushrooms stuffed with spinach, cheese, and breadcrumbs and baked until golden brown, and lentil and vegetable curry served with rice or with naan bread. All of a sudden Chat makes me look like a star.
Generate a name for a business or app
I asked ChatGPT to help with a name for a (hypothetical) app I was working on. I explained it lets people buy and sell used electronics, kind of like eBay, but only for tech and really good prices.
ChatGPT came up with seven names and offered a rationale for each, including these:
• TechSwap: A simple and straightforward name that combines “tech” and “swap” to convey the core concept of buying and selling used electronics.
• GadgetHive: This name combines the idea of a “hive” or community of tech enthusiasts with the word “gadget” to create a catchy and memorable name.
• ReTech: A play on the word “retro” that emphasizes the app’s focus on used electronics. This name is short, catchy, and easy to remember.
I liked all of the suggestions it offered—especially GadgetHive, which I think is quite catchy. I’m even thinking of asking ChatGPT to create a slogan to go with it.
Create an adventure game
Bored? You can ask ChatGPT to create a personalized interactive game for your to play.
When I did it agreed to the challenge but had a few questions for me;
“Do you prefer a fantasy adventure, a sci-fi adventure, a mystery adventure, or something else?
Please let me know if you have any specific requirements or preferences for the adventure.”
I gave it limited instructions designed to get it started and, to my surprise, it came up with a new game called, “Lost in the Future City.” It begins with an earthling stranded on a distant planet, trying to get home. But, the aliens are try to prevent the return home. ChatGPT continues….
“You begin your journey in the heart of the city, surrounded by a crowd of alien beings. You feel overwhelmed by the sights and sounds around you, but you know you must keep moving if you want to get home.
You can see a towering building in the distance that seems to be your destination. As you start to walk towards it, a group of people approach you, looking suspicious.”
It gave me three options. 1) Fight the group of people. 2) Try to talk to the group of people. 3) Run away. I chose to run. ChatGPT continued with another scenario and three more options.
The game was only OK, sort of like a “Choose Your Own Adventure” book but certainly not bad considering it had but seconds to come up with something.
Write me a song
Finally, while ChatGPT is a text-based AI engine that can’t speak or play music, you can still ask it to write notes or chords (and of course, lyrics) for a song for you play on an instrument or virtually on a web-based piano.
For instance, I asked it to write a rock-country ballad, with accompanying piano chords, about loving someone who has different political beliefs than mine.
I met her at a rally, a sea of red and blue,
We talked about our differences, but our hearts felt so true.
She’s a Republican, I’m a Democrat,
But we found love in the midst of all that.
Loving someone who’s on the other side,
Can be tough, but we’ll take it in stride.
We won’t let politics tear us apart,
Our love is bigger than any red or blue heart.
Cheesy, yes, but you get the idea and I think its impressive nonetheless!
Try out ChatGPT for yourself at OpenAI.com.
For the past 25 years, Marc Saltzman has been a recognized expert in consumer electronics, business tech, and automotive trends. Marc is a keynote speaker across North America and hosts the weekly Tech It Out podcast. Follow him on Twitter @ marc_saltzman.