AI Isn’t Just a New Buzzword, It’s an Old Friend with a New Look
By: Jennifer Petsche, Marketing Communication Strategist, Creative Group
Not a day goes by when I don’t come across some mention of artificial intelligence: an article, a late-night TV show host’s monologue, my Facebook feed…you get the idea. I hear about it so much that I have begun to tune it out—it’s overwhelming and I’m just not sure how it fits into my life. Do you ever feel the same? Well, I decided to face my apprehension and dive in to learn more about AI software in the real world, and I’m sharing my findings with you, my meetings and events profs (and anyone else reading this!).
When I finally stopped tuning out “AI” talk, I had a revelation: It’s already everywhere! We just don’t always refer to AI software as “AI”: spell check, Google translator, Siri/Alexa, EVs (electric vehicles), spam filters, GPS, etc. Now, to confirm my “light bulb moment” I decided to use ChatGPT for the first time (yep, the very first time), and it indeed listed many features we use daily as “AI.” So then, what’s the big deal with AI recently? Turns out, what people are talking about more now is Generative AI, or Gen AI as some call it (and then it sounds as if we’re talking about a new generation of kids, and it gets even more confusing—for more fun, you can read a Forbes piece about generations and Generative AI here).
What is Generative AI? Basically, it’s using adaptable artificial intelligence (AI) to create, or generate, new content such as copy, images, video, etc. When I broke it down like that, I could see why there has been so much buzz about it. AI that learns and adapts starts to remind us of movies where robots take over the world, and that would be bad… probably. Scary futuristic movies aside, Generative AI still causes some apprehension, and I was one of the people who resisted it initially. But, because I’m a bring-it-on-marketer, I began to test the waters. There are many, many Generative AI applications, but to keep it simple, I’ll mainly be talking about one of the more common AI artificial intelligence chatbots: ChatGPT.
My first big step on the slippery slope was downloading ChatGPT, but I use Siri, so why not? I started small by asking it what Generative AI was. And then I asked for a list of common AI applications. I did not ask it to write this blog, but maybe the next time! I think ChatGPT may be my new best friend/assistant— I simply wish it had a nicer name, like ChiChi or Chaz.
As a writer, I can see the benefits of Generative AI. It’s an easy connection to make. But, what about other areas of life or business? How does it fit in and how does it help us? I did some reading, and experimenting, to see what it can do. My info will be high-level and non-expert here, but it gives you somewhere to start so you’re not overwhelmed like I was.
1. Get Detailed Answers to Questions
This is a base-level use, but still a good one. For example, I Googled “What is the best adult vacation spot” and got a whole list of links with “best” lists. Too many lists, too much clicking. I asked ChatGPT the same thing, and Chaz (my new name for it) proceeded to tell me it depends on taste, and that it’s subjective (duh, Chaz!). But it listed some of the best-known options and their descriptions. This was far more efficient. I tested this with several other questions, with some answers being the same on both applications, and some being far more helpful and to the point with ChatGPT. BTW, I’m thinking of booking a trip to Las Vegas. Thanks, Chaz!
- Of note, the best thing about this (in my opinion) is that you can ask follow-up questions without having to ask a whole new base question. The back and forth is fantastic. I asked it to help me come up with a title for this blog. Chaz answered. Then I typed “shorter” and it gave a shorter title. Then I typed “funnier” and it gave one with a bit of humor. I wanted another option, so I just typed “another” and then “another” and Chaz always delivered without complaint. I didn’t end up using any of its suggestions, but it helped me determine my own title.
2. Research and Get Ideas Flowing
Let’s say you’re planning a big corporate event and you want to focus on sustainability. You’re coming up with some good ideas, but you feel like there’s more you could add to your list. Use Generative AI to provide a list of ideas. They may not all be good for your use, but they may spark some other ideas. And that could lead to follow-up questions, like asking for a list of the top “green” venues in Cancun. It turns into an informative conversation that gets your creative juices flowing when you can’t necessarily talk with a colleague.
- As an example, I asked Chaz which hotels in Chicago can accommodate meetings of 500 or more people. Then, because I like to swim in my off-time, I asked “which have indoor pools.” It’s very easy to narrow things down quickly.
3. AI Project Planning Assistance
Generative AI can help you with some of your smaller, tedious tasks so that you can focus on the bigger, more impactful items on your to-do list. For example, ask your chatbot to draft emails or make lists (remember to look them over before sending or using them!).
- As an example, I asked Chaz to make a list of potential speakers for a women’s leadership conference in San Diego. It quickly gave me 10 names and why each one would be qualified for the job. It pointed out that the list was great because it represented a diverse range of backgrounds and expertise (brag much, Chaz?). Looking it over, I had to agree: from Melinda Gates to Michelle Obama to Serena Williams, and lots in between! Now, can Chaz get contact information for each one and reach out regarding availability? Yeah, no. But Chaz could create a list of questions to ask their “people”. See? Helpful.
Now, I’ve had some fun with Generative AI and seen how it can be helpful, but besides the taking-over-the-world thing, I still have some concerns about it. Is it safe and secure (cyber-ly speaking)? There’s lots of information out there about it that I’ve only just begun to dig deeper. What I’ve decided is to proceed with caution for now. I will never ask Chaz something that reveals my company or client information. I will assume Chaz is prone to gossip and anything we talk about could end up getting “out there”. There are many things to be cautious about, and if you’re concerned, please talk with your company’s Tech and Security teams. They are way more qualified to help with tech questions than I am. Probably better to ask them than Chaz, too.
Will AI take over jobs? Likely, to some degree. I like how a recent Harvard Business Review article summed up the idea: “AI Won’t Replace Humans—But Humans with AI Will Replace Humans Without AI.” I am a big believer that Generative AI should only be a helper and never a replacement for anything or anyone and never be left unchecked. And not just because it could take over our jobs but because content still needs a human element. We are human and we can’t lose what makes us human—flaws and all. I asked Chaz if it was human and it said no. It reminded me it was a “computer program” (its words, not mine) designed to provide information and be helpful. So for now, Chaz knows its place. But I’ll be checking in with it regularly (wink, wink).