How AI can be used for good

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Tenderly poignant, wise and affecting. A beautifully stirring reflection

The chat-bots are not evil by nature. Services like OpenAI, Google’s Claude, or Microsoft’s Co-Pilot can be awesome researchers. David Simon, who created the TV series The Wire, said AI is like something you’d grab from a shelf. “I regard AI as no different than having a thesaurus or a dictionary on your desk, or a book of quotable quotes. Play around with it.”

A half-hour with Microsoft’s tool showed me a new AI angle: results where you can see the information source. AI’s GPT can lie and make things up — and it lies with confidence.

We are not talking about generative AI, or what’s called GenAI by now. AI can help organize ideas about marketing. These ideas do not break new ground, but you might be glad for AI’s to-do list. Its short version that I received, in less than 20 words?

• Social media.
• Cross-promote.
• Influencers.
• Review books.
• Polish your website.
• Giveaways.
• Develop library and bookstore connections.
• Media releases.

Going beyond the first answer is essential whenever you let AI do your groundbreaking. Remember that these resources are not search engines. They’re something called an understanding engine. You have to supply context along with your prompt questions.

For example, tech journalist and sci-fi novelist Maria Korolov always uses a process for her prompts. One assignment might be finding comparable books to yours. You start with the short summary you’ve written. Then you say, “Generate a list of [the books you’re seeking]. If you understand, please tell me “I understand. Please paste the text of your story.”

I’d avoid the tactic of pasting your entire 80,000-word manuscript into a chat-bot and asking for 500- and 1,000-word summaries. Overseas piracy sites have lots of books to steal already. Don’t make it easier for them by using your unprotected manuscripts you’ve entered into an AI-bot’s database.

Iffy AI responses can be improved. Ask the AI to review its answers and find problems. Then tell it to revise the response in light of its own critique. You can also tell the AI to think through its answers step-by-step. It’s a magic phrase that the understanding engines respond to.

We’ll be reading about and using AI the rest of our lives, unless there’s a digital Armageddon. A good approach to welcome this into your creativity is, “Sometimes it works, and sometimes it really doesn’t, but at least I’m not starting from scratch.”

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