By Kate Leonard
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is revolutionizing the way we live, work, and play. Its applications are diverse and continually expanding, making it one of the most transformative technologies of our time.
Confession: I didn’t write that intro. ChatGPT did, along with about 500 words in a matter of moments, all from a 13-word prompt. And while the rest of the post did a pretty decent job of outlining the many possibilities AI holds for fields from healthcare to social services, it just didn’t sit right with me. It didn’t sound or feel like me, or anyone in particular. But, it was the start I needed! Welcome to my love-hate relationship with AI.
Are you using AI? As someone who writes everyday for my job, it makes me nervous. No, I’m not scared it will take my job (…yet). For one thing, I’m afraid I’ll get lazy and my creativity will suffer. For another, as noted above, I’m worried I’ll lose my tone of voice and the content will suffer. But it’s clear AI is here to stay, with more and more tools and platforms coming out, promising to make work and life easier. So I asked my co-workers to chime in on how they’re already using AI, with hopes that the subject can become less overwhelming. Here’s what I found out. (Spoiler alert: I feel much better about things after my conversations.)
*Huge caveat: My examination of ChatGPT and other AI tools is through the lens of a non-profit marketer, someone who generates content for the web on a daily basis. Where AI can be helpful to you all depends on where you’re starting and what your goals are. If you’re wondering how some real-life people are currently using AI, mostly for content generation and general day-to-day life, keep reading.
Getting Going: AI for Brainstorming and Thought Starters
I’ve already dabbled here, and it turns out so have many of my coworkers. Need help developing clever subject lines, catchy headlines, or even ideas for your next event theme? Write a prompt about what you need and ChatGPT can churn out options.
“I use ChatGPT for brainstorming titles and topics,” said Chris Carpenter, Marketing and Community Relations Manager of NextCorps’ For ClimateTech programs. “It’s like another form of Google, and I’m learning the prompts that give me the best answers as I go.”
ChatGPT uses a self-learning algorithm, meaning the more it is used, the better it will learn your tone of voice. Plus, the more specific you can be in your prompts, including the number of options you want it to supply, the better the outcome. And if you give it one solid example you’ve already come up with, even better.
For instance, asking for 10 subject lines for a fall-themed newsletter about innovation (e.g. Unbe-leaf-able startup events coming soon!) will give me more to work with than simply asking for a newsletter subject line. This approach works for imagery, too.
“I just started using Canva’s Magic Studio for generating images,” Carpenter added. “If you can be specific and detailed in your prompt, you’ll get versions to choose from. For example, I asked it to generate an image of a diverse person working on an electric vehicle with a tablet in hand, and it gave me options.”
Stepping Up Visuals: AI for Images and Photos
Aside from Canva, there are countless tools for image generation and photo manipulation. NextCorps Luminate’s Managing Director, Dr. Sujatha Ramanujan, has turned to tools like Media.io and Aragon to generate professional-looking headshots from cellphone selfies. But proceed with caution.
“Media.io gave me dozens of options, about 80% of which didn’t even look like her,” Ramanujan said of her experience helping her daughter with a headshot. “The more photos you can give it, the more accurate your results become.”
Sound familiar? A friend of mine sent me an originally blurry picture of myself that he had AI clean up, and it didn’t look anything like me! Free tools are still in the nascent stage, so you’ll need to follow uploading guidelines and supply multiple images for the best outcome.
Distilling Information: AI for Saving Time
The first time I received a meeting recap generated by Read Assistant, I was both creeped out and impressed. Matt Foley, Managing Director of Incubation Services at NextCorps, uses the tool to offload note-taking and it’s really smart. Use it to record your next meeting and you’ll get a recap that breaks down the topics, action items by person present, and key questions that came up during your meeting.
Dr. Ramanujan shared that she uses ChatGPT quite a bit to dive into new subjects. Rather than sift through pages of research, she can get concise information about a topic, like the origin or evolution of a particular stock exchange.
“The critical thing to remember about AI is that it’s ‘garbage in, garbage out.’ It all depends on what you’re feeding it,” said Ramanujan. “If you use it for any sort of research, make sure you’re checking the sources. Don’t just trust what it gives you.”
Remember that there are time limits as well. For example, ChatGPT doesn’t have enough current information to provide accurate details around today’s stock market trends.
Fixing Your Work: AI for Cleaning Up
Built-in spellcheck and grammar tools don’t always catch everything, and sometimes data is just plain messy. This is another area where ChatGPT can help.
“Testing a web application used to be a nightmare,” said Ben Durfee, NextCorps’ Startup Community Coordinator. “I used to type my test data by hand, and now ChatGPT can do it for me in seconds, and there are no errors. If you need a huge table cleaned up — abbreviating states, capitalizing certain information, separating names, whatever — ChatGPT is a beast for cleaning and transforming data.”
“I will plug in entire blog posts or newsletters to check for typos and grammatical errors,” Carpenter noted. “It’s like another set of eyes to make sure my content is buttoned up.”
Customizing Content: AI for Iterating
Need to tailor your resume for a certain position? Dr. Ramanujan has helped people make adjustments to their CV using ChatGPT by loading up an existing doc along with a specific job description.
Durfee adds that ChatGPT can be like a hyped-up thesaurus. “You can dictate much more openly, such as ‘What’s a good way to decline something if you want them to reach out again in the future?’ I also use it a lot for being more concise. If I have trouble making something brief, I’ll word dump and have it spit something back that’s better.”
Another option on the market for AI-generated social is Sprout. Helen Rose Shine, NextCorps’ Marketing and Content Coordinator, shared her experience with the social media project management platform.
“It’s less affordable but worth the splurge. Once a user syncs their digital accounts, it pulls accurate data, and within a month of being on the platform, can learn your audience and determine what type of voice they’re looking for from your brand,” said Shine. “Sprout’s AI feature will analyze the content you’re thinking of posting, and from that can generate three different post options that are in line with what users are expecting.”
With More Exposure Comes More Comfort
So where do I stand on AI after these conversations with co-workers? I’m validated in my perspective that AI can’t do it all. It takes a human touch. You still need to provide solid input, review what it gives you, and do some clean-up of your own. I’m also inspired to try other tools for other uses, because it’s clear the possibilities are endless.
Like anything, AI takes getting used to. I may continue to feel like I’m stumbling through prompts, but I see the results that ChatGPT gives me improving with time. If, like me, you’re in the early stages of exploration, keep on keeping on. AI will likely become part of your day-to-day life in the near future. The only way out is through.