The Power of Artificial Intelligence as a Thinking Partner - Embrace Its Importance
I made a mistake, I should have been using AI earlier in TfT
This was originally published in the online magazine Collider. I’ve updated some of the details based on recent AI advancements.
Confession time: I used to be quite skeptical about artificial intelligence (AI). My uncertainty reached a point where I didn't even want to engage with the topic. However, once I finally delved into the world of AI, I discovered that I had been missing out on an extraordinary and revolutionary tool that could enrich how I think and take notes.
This abrupt realization made me wonder how many others shy away from embracing AI in their workflows. Perhaps the hype surrounding AI, the potential unknowns, or even the perceived dangers turn people away. Regardless, if you share my hesitation, I urge you to reconsider your perspective and explore this incredible technology.
My initial concerns about AI stemmed from data privacy and the possibility of obtaining incorrect or misleading results. However, as I dug deeper, I realized that there was an underlying fear of the machine replacing my thinking abilities. I didn't want AI to diminish my intelligence, creativity, or self-worth.
This concern turned out to be unfounded. While exercising caution with AI is important, my apprehensions were exaggerated. All I needed to do was learn, reflect, and experiment with AI; those fears soon dissipated.
Before long, AI became an invaluable "thinking partner" in my work - a partner available 24/7 to engage in discussions, reason, and debate on many topics.
For instance, I once explored how project teams could learn from ants' work ethic and collaboration. What ensued was an insightful and enjoyable AI-assisted research experience. This ultimately revealed the valuable lessons that these tiny insects could teach us. I am unsure of any other way I could have explored this subject, at least with the available resources. AI made this a possibility.
Addressing Data Privacy Concerns
Maintaining control over data and privacy begins with understanding how AI tools handle your data, utilizing AI tools that allow you to tweak settings according to your privacy needs, and only using AI tools that conform to your privacy requirements.
So, if you have reservations about AI and privacy, educate yourself on the intricacies of AI and how to customize it to suit your demands. With proper research, you can find AI solutions that align with your data protection requirements and reap the benefits of this groundbreaking technology.
Compounding Benefits over Time
As my knowledge of AI grew, so did its benefits. AI proved to be an exceptional ally in the thinking process, saving time in gathering new knowledge, condensing volumes of information into its core essence, and improving the quality of my research.
AI has become a trusted collaborator in my brainstorming sessions. While not every interaction with AI yields perfect results, the journey is always intriguing, opening up unexpected paths to new ideas.
A practical example of using AI as a thinking partner
Allow me to share a recent hands-on experience of integrating AI into my research, thought process, and note-taking. While I'll showcase this process using Obsidian, rest assured that this AI-assisted research method is adaptable to any Tool for Thought.
First, let's set the stage by clarifying the research subject. Not too long ago, I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes - a manageable condition, but one I was mostly unfamiliar with. Thus, I set out to create a personalized "health wiki" to compile notes from my findings. The aim is to document valuable information and have easy access for future reference. Moreover, I strive to keep each health note concise, containing only the essential information needed to grasp the topic, mainly for my condition. I am using the Evergreen note-taking style for this subject matter and some Cornell Notes for long-form notes.
For this, I created a Dasbhoard++ health wiki page. Here, it is presented in the following picture. As you can see, I organize my notes topically. There are multiple topics, and all notes are related to a topic, and a note can appear in multiple subjects as needed.
With the foundation laid, I can effortlessly incorporate new health notes. This is where AI comes into play. I start by creating a new file and giving it a title. I then engage the AI in a Q&A session on the subject. As we progress, I delve deeper by asking more specific questions concerning diabetes.
Here’s a list of questions I posed to ChatGPT about the pancreas:
What is the pancreas?
How does the organ relate to glucose?
What is its connection to diabetes?
What are the potential risks to the pancreas for diabetics?
For each inquiry, the AI provides a wealth of information. I carefully read through the responses and jot down personalized notes encapsulating the pertinent details. Subsequently, I asked the AI to rephrase these notes for improved clarity and conciseness. After obtaining the revised summary, I transfer it back to Obsidian and perform a final edit to ensure my writing style remains intact and that nothing nonessential is added or missing during the process. The end product for my pancreas note appears as follows:
As you can see, this Evergreen note defines in simple terms related to my diabetic-centric research what the pancreas is and how it relates to diabetes. It is also nicely linked to other research notes derived from the same AI research process I just defined.
I also do some fact-checking to confirm what the AI is saying. In the past, I did some independent web searches, but now use the openAI feature to browse the web to find collaborating articles to establish reliability in my notes.
Of course, one topic often leads to many other topics. Along the way, I quickly create new notes for researching other topics. When I finish one, I move on to the other.
Having used AI as a thinking partner in this research, I discovered a few interesting things when I used AI:
I spend less time digging around the internet for information
I spend more time thinking about the information I get so quickly
I even got answers to some questions that I think would have been very difficult to answer, having used traditional "Google search" methods.
In summary, I save time and focus more on things that interest me and help me.
From Skeptic to Advocate
Looking back, my skepticism toward AI now seems misplaced. Embracing AI has the potential to enhance our thinking and note-taking abilities in ways I once thought impossible. Therefore, it's crucial not to disregard AI but instead integrate it into our thinking workflows.
It's essential to educate ourselves about AI and witness its development first-hand.
So, my advice to you, if you have hesitated to implement it into your work, is to embrace AI. Start learning to use it effectively and incorporate it into problem-solving and your thought process.
While learning and implementing AI takes time, effort, and resources, investing in oneself will surely prove worthwhile. This effort will pay off, providing a competitive edge in your work and life.
Since publishing my article in July, several advancements in artificial intelligence have occurred. I want to highlight a few that have significantly impacted my work. As mentioned in this revised article, I'm now using OpenAI's capabilities to do real-time web searches. I do this to confirm with facts what I've concluded from my conversations with OpenAI. I also include these references in my notes for future use. This reduces the problem of AI hallucination entering into my notes.
Another recent innovation I'm very excited about is the ability to hold voice conversations with ChatGPT. This is a new feature for ChatGPT Plus users. It costs money, but I've found it well worth the investment. It allows you to have a standard ChatGPT conversation but through your voice. You speak to ChatGPT, and it responds in voice. It's like a conversation with an expert on a specific topic. I often start a conversation that lasts 5, 10, 15, or more minutes, and then I ask ChatGPT to create a summary with the key highlights from that conversation. I take that summary, bring it into my notes, and revise it for long-term storage and usage. In short, ChatGPT has become a research partner in my Toolbox for Thought.
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