The Basics of ChatGPT

April 11, 2023

A few people have recently asked me what I think about ChatGPT, AI, and copywriting. I have to admit, I kind of ignored a lot of what was happening in this space until recently.

I mean, I played with some research/writing tools back before AI writing was cool (it would’ve been around 2018), but they were mostly underwhelming and a waste of time. And I’ve been using AI transcription tools to convert my call recordings into notes for a few years now — but nothing too groundbreaking.

But times changed. The tools are not so underwhelming anymore and suddenly everyone’s talking about OpenAI, ChatGPT, Bard, and Bing AI. And if you’re just diving in, it can be a lot to get your head around.

So, I wanted to share a bit about what I’ve learned in a beginner-friendly way.

Definitions: AI, OpenAI, GPT-3, ChatGPT

“You keep using that word… I do not think it means what you think it means.”

Before I can talk about copywriting and AI (Artificial Intelligence), let me get specific. Right now, a lot of people are using AI, OpenAI, GPT-3, and ChatGPT interchangeably, but that’s not necessarily correct. So, a few definitions:

AI – Artificial Intelligence
OpenAI – The company that developed GPT-3 and ChatGPT
GPT-3 – A language model that stands for Generative Pre-Trained Transformer 3 that has been trained on a huge amount of publicly available data
ChatGPT – A version of GPT-3 that has been adapted for conversational applications (i.e. a chatbot)

In this blog, I’ll mainly focus on the internet’s latest plaything… ChatGPT.

How Does ChatGPT Work?

You can access ChatGPT here. It’s like interacting with a chatbot, so you can ask it questions and make requests by typing into the chatbox. You can request it to do or produce anything in text form (although it does have some limitations to knowledge and capabilities).

Unlike typing a keyword into Google search, using ChatGPT feels more like having a conversation with another person because the responses are humanlike and definitive, rather than simply providing a list of relevant results for you to browse.

So, how does it do that?

ChatGPT will generate an answer based on a combination of the data it’s been trained on and its architecture. It creates each answer word-by-word — after each word, it predicts the most appropriate next word (a bit like predictive text). It learns patterns and associations in language, which allows it to generate text that is similar to human writing.

It can handle long, detailed requests quite well. Actually, the more specific your request, the better the result (in my experience).

Really, the easiest way to explain this is to try it for yourself or see it in action. For example:

Fun Things to Try in ChatGPT

Some fun prompts I’ve tried that have helped me see what ChatGPT can do include:

  • “Can you write me a poem about [insert the whackiest thing you can think of]?”
  • “Can we play trivia?”
  • “What’s today’s weather in emoji?”
  • “Can you respond in a sarcastic tone of voice for the rest of our conversation until I say ‘END’?”
  • “Can you write me a short story about [insert various prompts from my children]?”
  • “Can you write me a choose-your-own adventure story about [insert your idea]? Finish the story within 6 choices, and let me choose each option before continuing with the story.” (This second instruction is important because the first time I tried it, it spat out the whole story at once, including all the options, but I wanted a more interactive experience.)
  • Various questions about its feelings and thoughts (to test its limits and see if I can get it to say anything creepy or run into the good ole “As an AI language model, I don’t/can’t…”)

Get Started With ChatGPT

As of now, ChatGPT is in beta and you can sign up for a free account here.

Try some of the above prompts and see what’s possible. Then think outside the box and see what the AI can do that’s relevant to your daily life or workflow!

Just remember that your prompts aren’t necessarily private, so don’t put sensitive data into your chatbox. They also don’t have a particularly tight privacy policy so assume that anything you share could end up being read/viewed by others (probably a good policy for anything you put on the web, anyway). And recently, there was a bug that accidentally exposed some user data. Oopsies.

So, have fun — but be smart about what you share with ChatGPT.

More Thoughts on ChatGPT

What do I actually think about ChatGPT? I have a lot of thoughts to share, so I popped them into another blog here: 11 observations about ChatGPT as a copywriter.

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