May 9, 2024

Try these 3 things before giving up on AI

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Featuring Jeremy Utley, Co-host of Beyond the Prompt and Co-author of Ideaflow

When AI gives us a mediocre response, we feel validated to write it off entirely.

“The scariest thing about AI might just be that it will gladly perform to your expectations – even if they’re far too low,” Jeremy Utley says. “Many inexperienced users harbor a secret hope that GenAI actually isn't that good and all too readily find evidence to confirm their suspicions."

He says this is particularly true for older workers – and they have the most to gain.

“Older folks need more tangible examples to buy-in to something like AI,” he says. “So the wrinkle right now is that the people who have a ton of benefit to derive from collaborating with AI are not getting it. I'm seeing a tragedy of inexperience.”

3 easy ways into AI

1. Find sources that provoke your imagination.

As Jeremy puts it “find the public square, so to speak, where you can learn about how people are using AI.”

This might look like subscribing to newsletters, listening to podcasts (such as Beyond the Prompt), or following power users on social media – not salesmen and clickbaiters, people who are actually doing things with it.

If you need tangible reasons to get excited about AI, put yourself in the way of them.

2. Start personal and then bring it to work

One of the biggest friction points in using AI is that people hear it – and immediately think of work (ugh).  

“The reason AI has gotten such traction in startups and entrepreneurial environments is because their work is their passion,” says Jeremy. “That’s not true of everyone. And one of my favorite maxims – ‘If you don’t care, don’t bother’ – is just as true of using AI as it is of attempting innovation more broadly.”

For a lot of people, finding new ways to do their work is not motivating. So rather than looking for uninspiring work applications, start with something you actually care about.

“My favorite first drill is: What's an emotional decision you're trying to make in your life right now? Anything that you would want to talk to your best friend from high school about. Tell ChatGPT to ask you three questions about the decision before giving you advice as a human would.”

Once you’ve applied AI to something you care about, it’s addicting to discover how else it can help you.

3. Try the best it has to offer

Jeremy’s number one rule:

“Friends don't let friends use GPT-3.5. No one should be evaluating the capabilities of AI based on their experience with a free model.”

Don’t use the performance of free AI tools to validate your dismissal of them. Try a paid model before you write AI off.

A good rule of thumb is: If you wouldn’t delegate a task to a high school sophomore, don’t give it to GPT-3.5 either.

How leaders can promote AI stickiness

As a leader, your silence around AI has a halo effect. Jeremy has a couple go-to methods for creating an environment that encourages experimentation:

1. Don’t use AI in the dark

“No one should brag about not using AI,” Jeremy says. “You should brag about availing yourself of every possible technology to make the best decisions.”

So don’t be timid or covert about it – embrace it and really celebrate it. “When you celebrate it, you show people how you're using it and they go, well I can do that.” You empower them.

If you’re being secretive, others are going to try it in secret and they won't share what they're learning. That has a cascading impact and it casts a shadow on how everyone else perceives using AI in their work.

2. Have you ChatGPT-ed it?

You might fear that asking someone, “Have you Chat GPT-ed it?”, will offend them.

“Because you never say to someone, have you Googled it? It's basically like saying, are you an idiot?” says Jeremy.

But that's another cognitive bias. We overestimate how much other people know about something if we're using it far more frequently than they are.

“Don't assume that using AI has occurred to the person who's talking to you about something,” Jeremy advises. Use these moments as an opportunity to spark an epiphany.

The answer is yes. What's your question?

“When it comes to what AI can do – be it a fun chore chart or a replacement for cream of mushroom soup in green bean casserole – the real challenge is one of imagination.”

The way Jeremy sees it is: The answer is ‘yes’. What’s your question?

There are limitless applications for using AI – and maybe that’s part of the problem for the people who bounce off. It’s hard to think of one thing to try when there are thousands of options.

“ChatGPT is not gonna push you, it's not gonna provoke you to interact more,” he says. You have to be the one to do the work and see where it adds value. So put yourself in the position to be inspired (reading Jeremy’s blog is a great place to start!), get to know what it can really do, and apply it to your passions.

P.S. The Section community is the perfect place to find your inspiration. When you become a member you get immediate access to a community of over 15,000 AI-powered professionals and our entire catalog of AI courses. Sign up now and take advantage.

Greg Shove
Section Staff