Writing in an Age of Generative AI

Since the middle of October or so, I’ve been researching intently on the potential impact of generative AI on professional and academic writing–including ChatGPT, Bing, Bard, and Claude. To a certain extent, I agree with Bill Gates that this may be the biggest technological innovation since the graphical user interface. The move to AI writing is moving quicker than any previous technology, and has the potential to be as transformative for academics as the birth of the commercial internet, the growth of streaming video and video conferencing or the adoption of the mobile phone.

What I’m going here is starting a one-month experiment, starting on August 1st to see if I can use AI in a way that will allow me to totally revise this site in 30 days.

Getting Started in With Generative AI

ChatGPT and other new generative AI tools are not like previous software. They use machine learning to produce different answers each time, and are designed to help people interact with them.

Make friends with AI:

  • Tools like ChatGPT increase productivity – 14% for customer support agents in one study. AI will enhance ability to do information-based jobs like doctors, lawyers, tradespeople etc.
  • Those who don’t use AI tools risk becoming replaceable. People who embrace AI will be smarter and more adaptable.

Integrate AI in your daily work:

  • AI can automate manual tasks like scheduling, freeing up humans for complex and creative tasks. Know where AI fits into your workflow.
  • AI is good for admin tasks, project planning, data analysis, research, writing assistance, but still struggles with nuanced decision making, explaining causality etc.

Learn how to write strong AI prompts:

  • Go beyond just asking questions. Assign roles, set boundaries, specify formats, highlight focus areas to guide AI to useful responses.
  • Treat AI as a collaborator, not a servant. Encourage clarification, don’t just command it.

Adaptability is key:

  • Those able to identify and implement AI opportunities will shine. Arrival of generative AI brings a power shift, like the web did.
  • Embracing AI means rebuilding things from scratch. The curious and innovative will benefit most.