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Don’t use AI wrongly on purpose

I’ve spoken to a couple of people recently who were very sceptical about the new generative AI tools, and had just dashed off a couple of trial runs to prove to themselves that there was nothing in it for them.

They were doing it wrong.

One day, and it may be soon, tools like ChatGPT and GPT-4 may be able to do everyday content generation tasks for us as well as we can do them ourselves. That time has not yet come.

What the people who don’t want to see generative AI being useful have usually been trying, is to throw in a real-life task, knowing full well that a machine won’t know as much as they do. “Write an article about why 4-20mA blue widgets are great in aerospace applications”, they’ll instruct it. And what a surprise, the response they get isn’t nearly as up to date and detailed as one they could write themselves.

“Great”, they think, “I’m not nearly out of a job yet.”

Instead of trying to find out if we’re out of a job, we should be investigating if generative AI can help us be better at it. Why? Because it often can.

For example, most of us will have used outlining. Break a 2000-word article down into 20 sections, and we only have to write 100 words under each. What’s more, the piece will probably have a good structure, rather than being a collection of thoughts.

So can we use generative AI to create outlines, and help us be better at our jobs? Yes, we can.

As an example, I asked ChatGPT to “write an outline for an essay on why 4-20mA widgets are useful in aerospace applications”. I used the word ‘essay’ because I’ve found it creates the right structure for the type of article I want, but experimentation could come up with something more appropriate. A better prompt would also give more context, but this will do as an example. Note that the subject is nonsense, but ChatGPT still gives it a good go. Its response is below, and I think it’s very helpful. If this was my area of expertise, I’d be able to amend or remove the headings I didn’t want without much effort, and then fill in the details under each one to create my article with a lot less effort than if I’d started with a title and a blank sheet.

I. Introduction
Brief explanation of 4-20mA widgets
Importance of aerospace industry

II. Advantages of 4-20mA widgets in aerospace applications
Low power consumption
Noise immunity
Long-distance transmission capability
Accuracy and reliability
Compatibility with existing systems

III. Examples of 4-20mA widgets used in aerospace applications
Pressure sensors
Temperature sensors
Flow meters
Level sensors

IV. Specific aerospace applications of 4-20mA widgets
Aircraft fuel management
Engine health monitoring
Hydraulic system monitoring
Environmental control system monitoring

V. Challenges and limitations of using 4-20mA widgets in aerospace applications
Integration with other systems
Maintenance and repair

VI. Conclusion
Summary of the advantages and applications of 4-20mA widgets in aerospace
Future potential for further integration and development in aerospace technology