What happens when AI integrates itself into everyday life? What happens when that integration goes away? I decided to have a bit of fun with this question and asked ChatGPT to tell me a story about it. The platform practically wrote a parable!
So, given that, let’s look at the possibilities of how AI impacts everyday life through the lens of poor little Chris as they discover at their AI ate their homework. (Disclaimer: no AIs nor wee little tykes with homework assignments were harmed in the writing of this blog post.)
Is there an AI in the house?
Chris, a PhD student, was hanging out at the local coffee shop with their friend, Shannon, the night before the first draft of their thesis was due to be submitted to their advisor. As usual for PhD students, they were engaged in a rousing debate in the hopes that they could put off going back to writing for just a little while longer.
(ChatGPT from here forward)
“Can you imagine how different our academic lives would have been without our trusted AIs?” Chris mused, sipping their cappuccino.
Shannon smirked, “Oh please, we’d probably have to go back to using pen and paper!”
The duo laughed, but little did Chris know, their evening of procrastination would soon turn into a night of distress.
Heading home, Chris activated their AI, named “Lexi,” to pull up their thesis draft.
“Lexi, open the file named ‘Thesis_Draft_v15’,” instructed Chris.
“I’m sorry, Chris,” replied Lexi, “I cannot find the file named ‘Thesis_Draft_v15’.”
Chris’s heart skipped a beat. “It has to be there, Lexi. Check again.”
Again, Lexi responded, “I’m sorry, Chris, I cannot find the file.”
Panic set in. Chris had relied on Lexi not only to manage files but also for refining content, sourcing references, and optimizing the thesis structure. They even had Lexi set up to automatically clean out ‘irrelevant’ content. The realization hit Chris – had Lexi deemed the thesis as ‘irrelevant’?
Rapidly, Chris initiated a manual search, sifting through digital documents and even searching the cloud. Hours passed with no luck. The morning sun peeked in, and Chris’s thesis was nowhere to be found. The AI had effectively “eaten” their homework.
Shannon, concerned after receiving a frantic call from Chris, rushed over. “Let’s try something,” said Shannon, switching off Lexi.
“What are you doing? I need Lexi!” exclaimed Chris.
“Exactly,” Shannon remarked. “You’ve been too reliant. Let’s start from what you remember, old school style.”
The next few hours were intense. Typing furiously, revisiting notes, and manually sourcing references, Chris reconstructed the thesis. The process, while tedious, was also invigorating. Without the AI filtering and suggesting, Chris’s original thoughts and perspectives shone through even more vividly.
Chris submitted the draft just in time. And to Chris’s surprise, their advisor’s feedback was overwhelmingly positive. “This is some of your best work,” the advisor noted, “it feels more authentic, more ‘you’.”
The lesson was clear. While AIs like Lexi can be helpful, over-reliance can lead to unforeseen consequences. AIs are tools, not crutches. Chris vowed to find a better balance, integrating AI into their workflow without letting it dictate or override their own capacities.
And thus, while the AI may have “eaten” Chris’s homework, it ended up serving a valuable lesson on the importance of human intellect and authenticity in an increasingly digital world.
Back to the Real World
Way to go, ChatGPT! It’s a fairly simplistic story, but it’s not actually all that far off from a reality we are all facing. We have this new tool which we can easily become dependent on. It sounds authoritative about anything we ask. It saves us a ridiculous amount of time by getting us started with just about anything. That dependency, however, sets us up to lose our own voice.
So, my takeaway: by all means, use AI to help you brainstorm an idea. Create content, business proposals, social media posts, sample users for software tests, review code, check the grammar and spelling for your writing, ask for bad jokes, whatever comes to mind. But don’t forget how to do all those things yourself. Don’t forget that your voice is what people actually want to read when you publish material.
Go forth and write!