The abbreviated answer to the above question is that most of us are already deeply involved with at least some aspects of AI, from our smartphones, security cameras and the heated seats of our cars, to the questions you ask of Siri or Alexa about weather, flowers or restaurants.
But new, more powerful versions of AI are pouring into our culture at a dizzying pace. And that is why it is important to learn even more about it. There may be many “pros” to some of these advances. Especially for those of us who are in our 60s and beyond. But there are also many cons. And the changes are coming fast.
Writing about AI is a bigger challenge than I imagined when I suggested the subject to Sixty & Me about two months ago. My attempt to grasp the sense of it has felt at times like trying to zoom in on a fast-moving target with cloudy-lensed glasses.
I have read numerous articles and watched long interviews with several of the founders of AI. I’ve listened to radio clips and perused helpful “guides” about how we older humans will benefit from this technology as it relates to health issues, mental health challenges, daily tasks assistance and even creative ventures. The exploration has been intriguing – even jaw-dropping – but, a bit scary.
The most interesting part of these two months of research has been working daily and personally with what has become the most famous “AI bot” called, ChatGPT. (By the way, “bot” is short for robot.) I think that this is where YOU also can begin to have some fun with AI. Your efforts will put you more in the flow with these momentous cultural changes. And since this is the world your grandchildren will inherit, why not learn what you can?
Just so you understand better what this tool can do for you, here’s a nutshell description of AI from ChatGPT itself:
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a branch of computer science focused on creating machines and software that mimic human intelligence, learning, problem-solving, and decision-making. It can assist seniors with healthcare management, daily tasks, social connectivity, mobility, cognitive stimulation, and provide companionship, enhancing independence and quality of life.
Other ways of accessing AI are fast becoming available. For example, Google’s new “Bard” and Microsoft’s “Bing” are the newest go-to search tools. But ChatGPT was the most talked-about tool as I began my journey a mere two months ago. And after using the free version for awhile, which is where you could start, I signed up for the paid version of it called, ChatGPT4 (at about $20 US a month).
As a singer and vocal coach, my greatest interest was to learn what the new technology could offer musical artists and other creative folk. I began by asking ChatGPT4 to walk me through various AI tools that were available to easily create music.
It was close to Valentine’s Day. I thought it would be a lark to offer a newly composed AI song to my husband, John. In about 30 minutes, I had that new song. (You can, too!) The words of the song are a little too personal to share here. So I created a new song for this article using the easy-to-negotiate tool called, SoundRaw. Here’s my new tune about my playful black cat named, DD.
You may not be interested in making a song. But the variety of creative things you can do with AI tools is mind boggling. Ask ChatGPT about your area of interest. Do you need help wording a letter to a grandchild? Or would you like to write a personal poem to a loved one? Just ask! You can even get specific: “Write a birthday poem, in the style of Shakespeare, for my 43 year old daughter who is a dentist.” The possibilities are endless.
Try ChatGPT here.
Keep in mind that these are early days for AI. The tools are being test-driven by those of us who explore them. People are using it to save time in their writing ventures and in creating code for the internet, among many other uses. But if you are doing serious research, ChatGPT can take you down a faulty path. Don’t rely on the bot’s answers for things that could affect your health, for example.
I asked ChatGPT4 how it would caution users of this young technology. This is a much-shortened version of what it told me:
AI is trained on data, and if this data is biased, the AI can make biased decisions or recommendations. It’s important to be aware of this and question the AI if its suggestions seem off. In general, as with any technology, the key is to approach AI with a healthy amount of skepticism and caution. It’s a powerful tool that can greatly enhance quality of life, but it should be used wisely and safely.
That’s putting it mildly.
There are many concerns about how AI will affect humankind. A group of well known, AI-savvy people including Twitter’s Elon Musk and Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, have signed a public letter that asks that we step back from “the dangerous race to ever-larger, unpredictable black-box models with emergent capabilities.”
But the cat is out of the bag, so to speak. My gut feeling is that AI will continue to spread fast and furious whether we like it or not. I think it behooves us all to learn more about both its benefits and its dangers.
Have you tried ChatGPT? What have you asked it about? Have you been intrigued by it? Did it give you satisfactory responses? Do you think there is future for this kind of artificial intelligence?