What is ChatGPT and what’s it for? Why use it and how to make the most of it?
ChatGPT is like an imperfect personal assistant and researcher. You ask it to prepare documents / ideas / explanations / emails for you, or ask it to review something you’ve written, and it does so to the best of its ability. You then check it’s right and ask it to change it if not.
|ChatGPT is like a digital genie that can grant unlimited word-based wishes. It works as your personal assistant and researcher that has read 22 million pages to base their answers on. It generates answers, reports, summaries, software code and documents to almost any request in whatever style and format you wish for.
Do not be fooled by thinking that because it says “chat” in the name that it’s anything but a sophisticated productivity and educational tool when used correctly.
- Ask it to write a report or an email for you.
- Ask it to write an advert, product description or an instruction manual.
- Ask it to analyse and critique text or ideas.
- Ask it to explain a topic to you and how you would be able to use it in your job.
- Ask it to summarise existing text or a web page.
- Ask it how to do something, then ask it to modify the bits you don’t like.
- Ask it to write software code.
- Ask it to brainstorm and generate new ideas and evaluate them.
- Ask it to act as a personal life coach and chat with it.
The OpenAI organisation created ChatGPT as a powerful computer-based language model. It can help businesses, organisations and individuals by improving their communication, make decisions and speeding up their work.
ChatGPT stands for “Chat Generative Pre-trained Transformer”. Which basically means it creates new text based on all the information it’s been trained on (22 million pages of text).
How does ChatGPT work?
As a concept it takes the words of 22 million pages plus the words of your prompt/request and works out what is the most likely first word as a response. Then it works out the most likely second word, third word, fourth word, etc until you’ve got a full response. So it doesn’t “know” anything but it can create the most likely response based on what everyone else has already written. And it does it super quick due to phenomenal processing power and in a way that makes it sound intelligent.
How to sign up for it? Which version can you use when free or paid for?
You can sign up to ChatGPT at https://chat.openai.com/
It’s free to use the older version online but you’ll need to register and you get to use the latest version with better response times if you pay $20/month. Note that using the older version 3.5 is not as impressive as the newer version 4.
You can also try a free but less refined version at OpenAI’s Playground page (https://platform.openai.com/playground )but this only has old versions so may give a false impression of how sophisticated the latest version it.
There is no ChatGPT app for Android yet, please don’t use any you find as they will be fake, terrible or scams! There is however now an official one for iOS but be careful to use the legitimate one: https://apps.apple.com/app/openai-chatgpt/id6448311069
What’s the difference between “Googling” and using ChatGPT?
With Google you’re asking to be told a list of websites which you can use to do tasks. Whereas with ChatGPT you’re asking it to do tasks and writing for you. With Google you’re being pointed to resources which you need to do work to review and compile; whereas with ChatGPT you’re being immediately provided with the summary of the resources and documents you can use immediately after proof-reading them.
The two biggest uses of ChatGPT
- Daily Writing Productivity Tool:
Productivity in daily writing, project planning, concept consideration and solution generation is the main benefit. But that is a multi-faceted benefit… It’s amazing when you start to work out how almost every writing task can be sped up and improved. See the long list below for all the ways it can improve productivity,
- Ultimate Procrastination / Writer’s Block Removal Tool:
Don’t know where to start? Too difficult to start? Don’t want to start? Ask ChatGPT to start for you!
One of the key benefits to using ChatGPT is because it can help you overcome minute-by-minute and daily procrastination. Some of which you won’t realise you had until you start using the tool.
Unlike people, ChatGPT doesn’t get stuck on initiating writing tasks. And it can create a plan or guide to any topic to get you started. If you have a difficult topic you’re avoiding or you’re not sure where to begin, you can “talk” to ChatGPT. Then it will provide you with an outline of the problem, solutions, and a step-by-step process to follow. You can ask it to improve or add different ideas until you have a working document to use immediately or with extra tweaking. Having something to work from is often easier than starting from scratch. People find it mentally simpler to critique and improve what’s already there without needing to pay consultants or ask managers / colleagues.
Full list of benefits and reasons to use ChatGPT
- Productivity: ChatGPT will speed up word based tasks, get you started on documents and make things possible that you previously couldn’t work out how to start easily.
- Efficiency: ChatGPT can analyze large volumes of data quickly and provide responses in real-time, allowing for more efficient communication and decision-making.
- Accuracy: ChatGPT provides responses based on the data it has been trained on, which can reduce errors and improve results.
- Expansive Knowledge: ChatGPT has been trained on 22 million pages of text so “knows” more about every topic than any living person. I also combines it’s knowledge into its output. It might not know more about any specific topic than an expert in that field. However, it knows millions of fields at the same time, unlike any human expert and can merge the fields into its responses.
- Consistency: ChatGPT can provide consistent responses to the same or similar queries, ensuring that users receive reliable and dependable information.
- Accessibility: ChatGPT can be used by anyone with the internet, making it accessible to people all around the world, regardless of their location or time zone.
- Personalization: ChatGPT can be tailored to meet the individual needs, allowing for a personalized experience that meets their requirements.
- Scalability: ChatGPT can handle large volumes of requests simultaneously, making it suitable for use in a wide range of applications.
- Cost-effectiveness: ChatGPT can reduce the need for human labour and resources, resulting in cost savings for businesses and organizations.
- Innovation: ChatGPT can facilitate innovation by providing a platform for experimentation and exploration, therefore allowing users to develop new applications and services.
- Enhanced customer experience: ChatGPT can provide a seamless and engaging customer experience, improving customer satisfaction and loyalty.
- Improved decision-making: ChatGPT can provide valuable insights and information that can be used to inform decision-making processes; which leads to better outcomes and results.
Examples of what you could use it for:
- Improve customer service: ChatGPT can provide immediate responses to customer inquiries, reducing wait times and improving satisfaction.
- Enhance marketing efforts: ChatGPT generates leads, answer questions about products or services, and provide personalized recommendations.
- Create marketing text, sales information and adverts by telling it what you want then asking it to tweak specific parts or add concepts.
- Streamline internal communication: ChatGPT helps write internal communication, such as scheduling meetings or answering frequently asked questions.
- Create and evaluate business plans: Your ideas are critiqued with suggestions and alternatives without having to ask other people for input.
- Create reports on any topic of your choosing.
- Create scripts for talking to people.
- Merge concepts into one and present as a complete, structured document.
- Add marketing phrases to information in Google Sheets based on your list of brand name and titles.
- Paste in a report or page page and ask for a bulleted summary.
- Paste in your bullet points and ask for a fully written report in sentences.
- Ask for an academically written article on a subject with references.
- Ask it to act as your life coach and tell it about yourself to base its suggestions on.
- Ask it to act as an interviewer for a specific type of job or for an specific employer.
- Ask it to write a story for children.
- Ask it to give you ideas for a business model for consideration and so get given the likely problems to solve and ways round them.
Limitations and issues using ChatGPT
Technical Limitations and issues
- Timeout / Availability: ChatGPT is very often over subscribed so you can’t log in or it just times out, particularly when not using the paid-for subscription.
- Stopping for no reason: Sometimes ChatGPT just stops generating text half way through. Sometimes it’s because you’ve asked it to create text that is too long for the allowed server time limit. Sometimes because it just timed out. Particularly with software code it will only start from the beginning so you never get to the end,
- Free version: The free version works the same but is less often available and responds slower compared to a subscription account.
- Word limit: ChatGPT limits the number of words in a response (about 1000), combining the words you use as the prompt and the response. So you need to balance your prompt and what you’re expecting for each request. It also forgets the start of a long conversation so doesn’t bear that in context.
Functional Limitations and issues
- Imperfect Outputs: You normally need to tweak or adjust the output manually before final use. (It’s still better than having to write it all yourself!) One of the phrases people use for it is: “It’s not perfect and neither are you.” Think of it as your personal, but imperfect, assistant and researcher but you need to review their work and often send them off to fix things.
- Too difficult to phrase the prompt: Sometimes you just can’t get it to do it in the way you want it. So this is where “prompt engineering” comes in with good techniques to write the prompts well. See my Training Packages page for details.
- No information after April 2023: ChatGPT was trained with masses of information only upto April 2023. It is (currently) only fed recent information so may not answer prompts properly if it needs recent information.
- Accuracy: ChatGPT’s responses may be inaccurate or incomplete at times. Or as it says: “ChatGPT sometimes writes plausible-sounding but incorrect or nonsensical answers.”
- Offensive Content: ChatGPT may generate inappropriate or offensive content.
- Limited Context: ChatGPT may not always understand the context of a conversation or question, so can lead to incorrect or irrelevant responses.
- Lack of Emotional Intelligence: ChatGPT does not have emotional intelligence or empathy, so this may make it less suitable for certain types of conversations or support.
- Data Bias: ChatGPT’s responses may reflect the biases present in the data it was trained on.
- Security: ChatGPT conversations may be vulnerable to security breaches or hacking attempts.
- Privacy: Your conversations with ChatGPT are stored and used for research or commercial purposes, which is a privacy concerns for some.
- Language Limitations: ChatGPT may not be able to understand or respond in all languages or dialects.
- Not good at mathematics: You shouldn’t use ChatGPT for mathematics because it was trained on words not numbers and will often get mathematical calculations incorrect, particularly when using decimal places.