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Depending on how much you keep up with technology, you may or may not have a decent understanding of what AI chatbots are (AI being artificial intelligence). Heck, you may not have even heard the term before.
But you may have heard of ChatGPT as it’s been in the news quite a bit over this past year. For a while, the phrase “artificial intelligence” usually had at least one mention of ChatGPT.
I still enjoy reading about, learning, and experimenting with new technology and these AI chatbots have been no exception. I just checked my password manager and I created my account for ChatGPT on December 9, 2022, so it’s been about a year now.
I dabbled at first, but now I’m so heavily invested that I use several AI chatbots throughout almost every single day to make my life easier in one way or another.
Even if you don’t know what these are, I’m going to explain them to you in layman’s terms and show you why I leverage them so much every day to get sh*t done. I would bet that you could streamline a lot of your daily life with them, too.
What are AI chatbots?
I’m going to assume that you’ve heard of artificial intelligence, even if it’s just from some science fiction book or movie. In general, AI (artificial intelligence) is the idea of computers being able to think for themselves.
There are so many levels of AI and it’s everywhere right now. It seems like every company is trying to find a way to integrate AI into their business. Here are a few examples:
- Self-driving cars
- Healthcare – diagnosis, treatment, and drug therapy
- Providing personalized financial advice
- Education and tutoring by adapting to a student’s learning style and pace
- Military drones and other combat focuses
We’re still far from what they call artificial general intelligence (AGI) though, which is the idea that a computer could think and handle any intellectual task that a person could.
That said, progress is advancing very rapidly and there are a lot of people and companies calling for a slowdown and regulation both domestically and across the globe. The concern is that we could quickly be put into a position where computers are now making decisions that walk the lines of ethics and morals without our input at all. This can cause small problems or potentially something much more catastrophic.
Have you ever seen the Terminator movies with Arnold Schwarzenegger, particularly Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines? Though it’s still just an action movie with a lot of farfetched parts of the movie, the whole idea of computers taking over like Skynet does in the movie is scarily an actual concern.
Personally, I’m excited about some of the advancements that AI is providing and will provide in the future, but I do get the concerns and think we need to have some guardrails in place as things move forward. Right now, I don’t get a say in what will transpire though. Hopefully, these are things that we the public will get to cast a vote on later depending on your viewpoint, but I’m not going to hold my breath.
In the meantime though, some AI tools are here for us to play with and utilize in our own lives. The most prominent of these are AI chatbots.
What are AI chatbots and what can you do with them?
If you’ve recently done chat support on the web with a company, you might have already been dealing with an example of AI chatbots. They used to be very primitive but they’ve gotten somewhat better over time.
But these support chatbots are a small sliver of what we’re talking about (and I tend to not like those company chatbots anyway since they can never seem to solve your problem anyway). Instead, I’m referring to a more open-ended chat that you can talk about almost anything with.
Probably the most well-known of these are ChatGPT, Google Bard, and Microsoft Copilot (formerly Bing Chat). The idea is simple… these big computer brains have been fed an unfathomable amount of data (i.e. the entire internet) and have been trained to “understand” things intelligently. So now you can just ask them questions or do a task for you and they do – and fast, nonetheless!
You can ask the AI chatbots questions about almost anything (though there are usually some guardrails on what is allowed) and they’ll give you an answer. You can then continue the conversation to ask follow-up questions, change some details, or move on to something completely different…
Heck, almost a year ago, I worked with one of the AI chatbots to create to demonstrate how it could write an entire blog post… Masterfully Crafted: How ChatGPT Wrote a Compelling Article on the Power of Saving and Investing.
Additionally, there are AI chatbots that allow you to ask them to create an image for you. You describe the details of what you want it to be or even what style you want and it does the rest. Usually, it takes less than a minute and then you’ll have several images to choose from. The technology might make your jaw drop in how good these can be.
Most of the AI chatbots are free and also offer a paid version with some more premium features. I’ve been solely using the free versions and I’ve been content with them but I can easily see how the pay versions make sense for a lot of folks.
The AI chatbots might not sound like something you need until you realize that they’re everything you need.
By that, I mean that if you’re not using them, I would bet that you spend a fair amount of each day “Googling” something when researching anything you want to do. You type in some search terms in Google, Yahoo!, Bing, DuckDuckGo (my favorite), or whichever search engine you prefer. You get results and start clicking on a link and checking if it has the answers you need.
Maybe you find part of the information but it doesn’t apply fully to what you’re trying to accomplish. You adjust your search terms, click on a few more links, and try to piece together something that you’re hoping will help you answer your question after you piece it all together.
You do this routine several times throughout each day.
That’s all fine and dandy, but here’s where the AI chatbots blow this away. Instead of this tedious process, you just ask the AI what you want to know – specific to your circumstances – and it gives you the answer.
Let me give you a real-life example so you can see what I mean. We’re currently on our 9-month RV road trip and one of the things we’re doing is boondocking (dry camping) some of the time with a lot more of that planned as the trip goes on. We currently have one small generator with us and we planned to bring along a second one on a later part of our trip to run in parallel so we could run our A/C unit when needed next spring/summer.
With our small trailer though, storage space is at a premium, and bringing along another generator takes up space and adds more weight. So I decided to check with “the AI’s” as I affectionately refer to them to see if I might be able to get away with just one generator and a soft start kit like this one to lower the A/C’s starting wattage to a level the generator could take.
Pretty specific, right? I could have spent hours on the internet searching and trying to match up my specific A/C unit and generator model. Instead, I asked a few of the AI chatbots their thoughts with some copy and paste and was able to get some ideas from there. ChatGPT and Bard both answered with some specific models to run with which is what I asked for along with the pros and cons of each, but the most interesting response I got was from Claude…
As stupid as this oversight was, I never even thought about just trying it without a soft start. I haven’t had a chance to try this yet (hopefully, next week when we get our RV back after the window is replaced), but this will be my next move. If that doesn’t work, I’ll likely go with one of the soft starts that the other AI chatbots seemed to agree on.
All of this took place in just a couple of minutes. Compare that to the 30-minute or longer rabbit hole I probably would have gone down trying to find a scenario that was even close to mine.
There are always things I’m trying to solve and these AI chatbots are a fast and efficient way to streamline the troubleshooting process.
The AI chatbots I lean on constantly throughout the day
Wait, AI chatbots, Jim – as in you use more than one??
Yeah, I do use more than one of these most of the time. And it’s super easy to do since I just copy and paste my question into each one so it only takes a couple of seconds to do.
There are three reasons why I tend to utilize more than one at a time:
- It’s like talking to more than one person at a time so I can see what they agree on and what they don’t. It’s also nice to get the different perspectives.
- Different AI chatbots have their strengths and weaknesses. Over time, you start to know which ones will give better answers on the topic you have in mind.
- A big weakness of the chatbots is that they can sometimes “hallucinate” and essentially start spitting out incorrect information. So while you can use these to guide you, it’s better to talk to more than one and possibly do further research when the answer is critical.
I’ve tried a lot of the available AI chatbots and the ones that I tend to use (all for free) are:
• ChatGPT – ChatGPT seems to be the AI chatbot I appreciate most in regards to the answers it provides. Most of the time, it’s dead on. The current free version uses version 3.5. The pro version is 4 and is even more reliable but you do need to pay a subscription for it. Also, the free version is only aware of events up to January 2022, while the Pro version has access to the internet so can help work with more current information.
• Google Bard – Although Google Bard wasn’t very impressive when first released, it’s grown quickly and become another favorite of mine. I like that when you ask it questions about products, it will generally return links to see them on Amazon or other places. If you enable the feature, you can also ask it questions about your Gmail or files in Drive (i.e. summarize this giant Google Doc) as well as a ton of other features. Google Bard is completely free as long as you have a Google account.
• Perplexity – Remember how we talked about the AI chatbots hallucinating sometimes? That’s one reason I like Perplexity – it includes links to the information it presents almost like a citation. That makes it a little more trustworthy in my opinion (though it could always be regurgitating wrong info that’s being spread on the web). But having those references can help you dig a little further if you want to as well.
• Microsoft Copilot – Copilot (formerly Bing Chat) is interesting because Microsoft has just shy of a 50% stake in OpenAI (the company that makes ChatGPT). Bing Chat used to only be available on Microsoft’s Edge browser but they’ve now rebranded as Microsoft Copilot and you can use it in other browsers. What’s even more interesting is that you get GPT version 4 for free whereas you only get 3.5 with the free version of ChatGPT. Additionally, Copilot pulls info from the internet for free as well.
Even with these inclusions, I usually prefer the more limited ChatGPT to Copilot. The answers seem to be more on par with what I’m looking for but sometimes Copilot gives me some good info back.
• Claude – This chatbot was started by some former OpenAI researchers who were involved in working with some older GPT versions. As you saw from my example earlier, Claude can give a different and sometimes insightful perspective on things, which I’ve found to be helpful at times.
• Microsoft Image Creator – If you’re just looking for something fun, try messing around with Microsoft’s Image Creator. It’s free (as long as you have a Microsoft account) and it can produce some astounding images that you can have done to look realistic or surreal and in whatever format you prefer (watercolor, painting, photo, etc.). This is super cool stuff but it has raised controversy from artists saying that it’s pulling bits and pieces from existing copyrighted artwork.
There are so many more of these, but these just happen to be the ones I work with the most.
Ideas to leverage AI chatbots to get sh*t done…
When I say that the AI chatbots have helped streamline things for me, I’m not kidding. The more you think about all the things we utilize the internet for these days, the more it might help you realize just how much you can call on the chatbots to help expedite your research.
This is by no means an extensive list, but here are some things I tend to use the AI chatbots for:
- Troubleshooting specific problems
- I have this model of this and I’m trying to accomplish that – how do I do it?
- Here are the specific details of what I’m trying to do. What is the best way to handle implementing this?
- Explain something in layman’s terms
- Explain the theory of relativity to me like I’m 5 years old.
- Bouncing ideas off
- I’m writing a blog post about xyz and I have a working title of blah, blah, blah. Is that a good title? How can I improve it and what are some other suggestions? [I actually do this on most of my posts now, including this one]
- I’m planning a birthday party for an 8-year-old. His interests are blah, blah, blah. What are some ideas I can do for the theme and activities?
- Spreadsheets and Programming
- I need an Excel formula that will count all cells in B4:B when the respective cell in A4:A is xyz.
- I’m programming in Kotlin for Android and I need code that will accomplish blah, blah, blah.
- Helping understand schoolwork
- Explain the steps to solve this math problem…
- Summarizing documents/meetings
- Summarize this PDF for me.
- Summarize these meeting notes.
- Draft an email
- Please draft an email to ABC company that requests reimbursement for the following claim…
- Planning a vacation
- We’re going to be going on vacation for a week in Nashville, TN. We enjoy trying new restaurants with different kinds of food and museums. Please create an itinerary for us for our trip.
- Suggest restaurants in an area based on what you like
- I need ideas for moderately-priced Italian restaurants in Austin, TX. We’re looking for something more authentic with good reviews. What are your suggestions?
- Medical advice – Be careful on this one. It’s absolutely not a replacement for a doctor, but it can help you narrow things down a little more rather than just spending all day on WebMD.
- I’ve been having pain in my right shoulder particularly when I lift my arm over my head. This has been going on for a few weeks now. When I do, blah, blah, blah, the pain seems to subside but only temporarily. Any ideas on what might be going on?
This is just scratching the surface of what you can do with the AI chatbots. Here’s what ChatGPT had to say when I asked it about what kinds of useful things you could ask it to help with…
What are some specific examples of things that people can ask you that would be useful in their lives?
Certainly! People can ask me about a wide range of topics to gain useful information and assistance in their lives. Here are some examples:
- Educational Assistance:
- Help with understanding complex concepts in various subjects.
- Study tips and strategies.
- Advice on choosing a college major or career path.
- Language and Writing:
- Grammar and writing tips.
- Assistance with creative writing or academic papers.
- Language translation or learning phrases in different languages.
- Technology and Gadgets:
- Troubleshooting technical issues.
- Recommendations for software, apps, or gadgets.
- Learning programming or coding basics.
- Health and Wellness:
- General health information (Note: I’m not a substitute for professional medical advice).
- Fitness tips and workout routines.
- Mental health resources and coping strategies.
- Travel and Geography:
- Travel recommendations and itineraries.
- Cultural insights about specific destinations.
- Language and customs of different regions.
- Financial Guidance:
- Basic financial planning advice.
- Tips for budgeting and saving money.
- Information on investing and personal finance.
- Career and Professional Development:
- Resume writing and job application tips.
- Interview preparation and techniques.
- Advice on career changes or advancement.
- Science and Technology Trends:
- Updates on recent scientific discoveries.
- Information on emerging technologies.
- Explanations of scientific principles.
- Hobbies and Leisure:
- Recommendations for books, movies, or TV shows.
- Guidance on starting a new hobby.
- Travel or food recommendations.
- Life Skills:
- Time management and productivity tips.
- Relationship advice (Note: Personalized advice is limited).
- Problem-solving strategies.
Remember that while I can provide information and guidance, it’s important to consult professionals for specialized or critical matters. Additionally, always verify information, especially in areas that may require the most up-to-date or context-specific details.
And here’s how that went with Google Bard…
What are some specific examples of things that people can ask you that would be useful in their lives?
Here are some specific examples of things that people can ask me that would be useful in their lives:
- Productivity and efficiency:
- What is the most efficient way to get from point A to point B?
- What are some time management tips that can help me be more productive?
- How can I create a to-do list that is both effective and realistic?
- What are some strategies I can use to overcome procrastination?
- Learning and education:
- What are the best resources for learning a new language?
- How can I improve my study habits?
- What are some tips for memorizing information?
- How can I find reliable information on a specific topic?
- Creativity and inspiration:
- What are some creative writing prompts that can help me get started?
- How can I overcome writer’s block?
- What are some techniques for generating new ideas?
- How can I find inspiration in my everyday life?
- Problem-solving and decision-making:
- What are some different ways to approach this problem?
- What are the pros and cons of each option?
- What are the potential risks and rewards of each decision?
- How can I make a decision that I am confident in?
- Personal development and well-being:
- What are some ways to manage stress and anxiety?
- How can I improve my relationships with others?
- What are some healthy habits that I can incorporate into my lifestyle?
- How can I boost my self-esteem and confidence?
In addition to these specific examples, I can also be used for a variety of other tasks, such as:
- Answering general questions about a variety of topics
- Generating different creative text formats, like poems, code, scripts, musical pieces, email, letters, etc.
- Translating languages
- Writing different kinds of creative content
- And more!
In other words, the list of things you can do with AI chatbots is pretty endless.
If you start to look at these as something useful (a lot more useful than Google Assistant and Alexa have ever been!), you’ll find that this can be like having an expert around whenever you need some help.
I’m not joking when I say that the AI chatbots have easily saved me hundreds of hours since I’ve been using them. I can tell you that they’ve saved me from a lot of frustration many times, too. When I’m trying to work on something or troubleshoot a problem and I’m stuck without knowing where to go next, these are now the first place I go.
Many of the AI chatbots have apps, but I just pull them up in the browser on my phone or laptop and they work great.
I know some of you might be gun-shy about allowing more technology in your life, but if you’re looking to step up your game and get sh*t done, the AI chatbots might be the answer you’re looking for.
Plan well, take action, and live your best life!
Thanks for reading!!