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Artificial Intelligence isn’t just a sci-fi fantasy anymore; it’s here, and it’s changing everything, probably for the better. Optimists have faith that the latest developments will free and empower humanity into Utopian bliss, whereas others – not so much. We’ve all seen the Terminator movies. Either way, AI is extremely powerful and is going to be an ever-increasing part of our lives.

So what exactly is AI, and more specifically, what are these new ChatGPT, Google-whats-it, AI-don’t-know-what-you’re-talking-about systems that blasted into the world only 18 months ago? What are they for? Why should I care? Will I soon be a human pet for our robot masters? Ok then, let’s chat. GPT.

So in basic terms,  imagine someone who has read millions of books and articles, can understand and speak dozens of languages, and is available to chat with you at any time. Large Language Models (LLMs) like ChatGPT are a bit like that. They are trained on vast amounts of text data, learning the patterns of human language. This allows them to generate text, answer questions, write stories, and even carry on conversations that sound human. They’ve essentially read the entire internet so you don’t have to, and now you can pick their brains at will.

Technically speaking, these models use a type of neural network architecture known as the Transformer. It was the breakthrough that moved AI from ‘maybe one day’, into ‘crikey, it’s working right now’. Transformers are the self-learning atom from which these now vast and complex AI systems are built. These new AI can process and generate text with incredible efficiency and accuracy. They analyze context, understand nuances, and can exhibit creativity.

AI now creates images and videos.  The most popular services being DALL·E 3, Midjourney, Stable Diffusion, Adobe Firefly, and Getty’s Generative AI. You can now also create images directly with ChatGPT.  OpenAI, of ChatGPT fame, have teased a new video creator ‘Sora’ with test images that have created an enormous buzz. Opinions are that it will likely revolutionise the way even Hollywood makes movies. (check Sora out here)

Created by Sora with this prompt: A stylish woman walks down a Tokyo street filled with warm, glowing neon and animated city signage. She wears a black leather jacket, a long red dress, black boots, and a black purse. She wears sunglasses and red lipstick. She walks confidently and casually. The street is damp and reflective, creating a mirror effect of the colourful lights. Many pedestrians walk about.

LLMs are not great at understanding logical problems yet, but they are getting better very quickly. Once they have a human-like capacity to understand and problem-shoot something unfamiliar, they will have reached what is termed Artificial General Intelligence (AGI). This is considered to be a decade away from reality, but those in the know are consistently revising that time frame down. It’s coming.

The best-case scenario is that AI democratizes access to knowledge and expertise, breaking down barriers in education, and communication. However, they also said the about the internet, and now more people believe the Earth is flat than ever before. For good or ill, AI will transform industries, whole economies, entire societies.

Just one mind-blower is that last December, a specialised research AI used by MIT and Harvard, found an entirely new category of antibiotic – the first time this has happened in 70 years. It analysed millions of chemicals, found 283 promising compounds, and now we have half a dozen new antibiotics to treat the most dangerous drug-resistant bacteria like Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). What normally takes 12 years, took hours. Hours. Just let that sink in.

AI may address humanity’s most pressing challenges, but the stakes are high and the true effects are yet to be seen. AI’s capabilities are increasing so quickly that the race to have the most powerful system is arguably nothing less than a race to dominate the world. Let’s hope it’s not Kim Jung Un who wins. Or Kanye.

You Might Not Have Noticed But You’re Using AI Already

Back to the here-and-now, from smart home devices adjusting your thermostat to personal assistants like Siri, AI is actually already in your daily routine. Search engines and social media are other examples we constantly use. AI also curates your entertainment on Netflix, helps you stay fit with wearable devices, makes online shopping smarter, and even translates languages in real time. AI has already integrated into our lives, and now you can take the next step.

Here’s how to use the new AI right now.

OK, let’s get to the fun part. Open your web browser and search for ChatGPT, or Google Gemini – there are plenty of options. Many can be used for free but are also more powerful with paid subscriptions that cost something akin to twice a monthly Netflix fee. You’ll probably have to create an account, and once you have, you’re presented with an interface similar to a chat app like Messenger. Ask a question and it will reply. How to talk to it, or in new-speak, how you engineer the ‘prompts,’ becomes more important as you attempt more complex tasks. When in doubt, actually just ask the AI.

Try these out:

  1. Organise home and work: ChatGPT can help you draft emails, plan your schedule, set reminders, and organize the planning of a project.
  2. Content Creation: Need to write a blog post, a report, or even a heartfelt letter? ChatGPT can help you generate coherent and well-structured content. Whether you’re struggling with writer’s block or just need a second opinion, this AI can provide the inspiration and assistance you need.
  3. Language Learning: Want to learn a new language? AI can help you practice by engaging in conversations, correcting your grammar, and even explaining language rules. It’s a versatile tool for anyone looking to improve their language skills.
  4. Homework Help: For students, ChatGPT can be a valuable resource. It can explain complex concepts, help solve math problems, and provide summaries of historical events or scientific principles. Use AI as a 24/7 digital tutor .
  5. Cooking and Recipes: Stuck on what to cook for dinner? AI can suggest recipes based on the ingredients you have at home, guide you through cooking steps, and offer nutritional information.
  6. Travel Planning: Planning a trip can be a juggle, but AI can simplify the process. It will help you find flights, suggest destinations, plan itineraries, and provide travel tips.
  7. Entertainment Recommendations: End the forever scroll and to find movies or shows, AI can recommend books, music, and even video games based on your interests.
  8. Learning New Skills: Whether you want to learn to code, play an instrument, or start a new hobby, AI can provide resources, tutorials, and step-by-step guides.
  9. A Shopping Assistant: No longer just for Beyonce or Elton John, AI can be your shopping concierge. If you’re looking for the best deals or choosing the right product, AI can provide reviews, compare prices, and suggest the best options based on your preferences and budget.

Here are some wickedly useful little things that we’ve personally found to be a small but mighty help day to day.

  • Add up lots of numbers. It can be a pain using a calculator; a typo on the seventeenth number? Head-slap and start again. Instead, copy and paste everything into the AI and ask for a total. Boom.
  • Tidy up a document. Upload your spreadsheet or Word document, and have all the wonky cells and spacing errors instantly fixed.
  • Summarise an entire email thread. That Monday morning inbox can be a shocker, so paste in that War and Peace-length email thread and ask for a summary.
  • Ninja Cooking. Ask for a recipe, but then tell the AI you’re missing an ingredient. Or you only have one and a half cups of flour, not two. It’s all instantly updated with new proportions or ingredients. Not sure how many grams of butter are three tablespoons? The long-tail Google search is over.
  • Computer Fixes. Tell the AI what’s happening with your computer problem and you’ll receive simple steps in simple language.

It’s Time to Dive In!

Powerful AI is no longer just a futuristic dream—it’s here and ready to make big differences in your daily life. The predictions are that very soon we’ll be talking to AI more often than we use Google search, and eventually even our omnipresent smartphones will be consigned to history; the 2020 equivalent of a VHS player. We’ve found using these new AI ‘chatbots’ for day-to-day activities surprisingly practical, and we’re diving in more and more.

In our next update, we’ll get serious about how you can power up your business. In the meantime, enjoy finding some new AI life hacks, and then challenge ChatGPT by asking how to make dinner for four with only rice, marmite, and three carrots.

A quick facts cheat sheet:

  • GPT stands for Generative Pre-trained Transformers
  • Generative AI: an umbrella term that covers a spectrum of content creation tech. The content includes but isn’t limited to text, images, video and music.
  • Large Language Models (LLMs): a subset of Generative AI that focuses on text.
  • Artificial General Intelligence (AGI): This is the end game, the holy grail. An AI that performs with human-like adaptability and logic
  • Prompt Engineer: This is a new job title for those skilled in writing the prompts that get the best results.
  • ChatGPT 4o: The latest version of the most popular AI.
  • Is AI conscious?  Nope. Almost certainly not. AI isn’t self-aware. The science of consciousness isn’t close to knowing why humans have it, and there’s no evidence for it in AI.
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