AI Quick-Start Guide

An image of a hand interacting with an AI model

AI Quick-Start Guide

Do you feel like you are a bit behind with AI or don’t know if you need or want to get involved? You are not alone. While AI is hyped in the news and has tremendous traction with IT and technical users, others are skeptical and waiting for things to shake out.

Many of us use AI in some form without thinking about it. For example, the voice assistants on our mobile devices, like Siri or Alexa, are AI-based. However, most of the current AI explosion is centered around the new Generative AI technology that stormed onto the scene on November 30th, 2022, with the emergence of ChatGPT.

It’s unbelievable that we have been using and adapting to it for a year and a half already. If you haven’t explored these new tools or are still trying to figure out their value, you are in the right place.

Here is my AI Quick-Start Guide:

1) The Difference – You may think artificial intelligence has been around for a long time and wonder why the excitement exists. The difference in this new technology is due to two overlapping technologies. First, this new AI is genuinely generative. Generative means that it learns from data. It can creatively produce its new content based on what it learns from extensive data sets that it ingests. The second difference is that it has advanced Natural Language Processing. This means that it has learned the human language very well. With the new AI tools, conversations can be easily carried out. They are more than one-line questions. The AI remembers what was said before and can adapt and change as a human would in a conversation. The difference is significant and impactful.

2) The Guardrails – There has been a significant amount of discussion around training AI and some interesting ways that AI has gone astray in its early development. There is a very old saying in software development that goes, “Garbage in, garbage out,” and that saying holds true with the new generative AI. If it learns from skewed data, it will give skewed answers. In addition, AI has no political correctness or ethical boundaries except those it is taught. Some examples include early iterations, including racial profiles in a job requirement list. Apparently, from the data, it recommended that a company find an Asian male within a specific age range for a job opening. More recently, Google’s new Gemini engine didn’t recognize that a Nazi was not likely to be African American, so it generated a photo of a black Nazi. This emphasizes that the software developers must create ethics and boundaries for the AI engine, which, unfortunately, often reflect their biases.

3) The Players – It seems that everyone is investing in AI, so creating a complete list would be far too much for this article.

Here are a few key players:

  • ChatGPT started this whole thing a year and a half ago and is still the front-runner. Others are catching up fast.
  • Copilot is Microsoft’s flavor of ChatGPT, which is built into your 365 subscription for about $30/month extra. Interestingly, Microsoft is a big investor in ChatGPT, and under the hood, Copilot runs on the ChatGPT engine.
  • Gemini is the Google competitor to ChatGPT. They have created their own and have taken a little longer to come to market but are at least spinning this as taking a more careful approach.
  • Grok by xAI is Elon Musk’s new AI model. He created it with a sassy tone and access to Twitter/X data. He recently released it as open source, and it is making some waves in the news.
  • Claude by Anthropic is another AI model that is gaining some traction. Its creators tout that it is safer, more accurate, and more secure than the others.
  • Dalle is ChatGPT’s tool that generates images, photos, and art from text or voice commands.
  • MidJourney is an even higher-end image generation tool that is gaining traction in the graphic arts field. It generates images from natural language descriptions.
  • Sora is ChatGPT’s new natural language for video generators. It is in limited testing and generates videos based on a human language description of what to create.

4) Exploring the Technology – If you haven’t already, the new AI is worth exploring, and you can check it out with very low risk. ChatGPT offers a free account on its older platform simply by navigating to its site and signing up. You can also play with Copilot and behind-the-scenes ChatGPT by going to (no account required) and asking it questions. Dalle requires a free account and limits you to a few daily queries. With any of these, you can buy a full account for more functionality and for them to use more up-to-date training data.

5) What to Ask – You can ask just about anything. It helps generate marketing text and headlines for refining writing, creating certain types of documents, comparing product specifications, and as a personal assistant. If you write code of any kind, it can knock out programming quickly. Someone recently told me they even used it to help plan a dinner party. I’ve found it can tweak some creativity if you are having difficulty getting started on a writing task like crafting a new procedure document or any type of writing.

6) Business Applications – This technology is being integrated into more and more business functions. The typical application is as a personal assistant. It is exceptional at writing, analyzing data sets and providing feedback, programming just about anything, and any analysis. I asked it to compare the specs of two products, and it built a comparison in less than 5 seconds. The possibilities are truly vast. Where are things going? Most software providers and many web applications are developing interfaces to these new tools and beginning to roll them out. Indeed now asks if you want AI help finding a candidate. My Evernote note-taking software now offers AI assistance, and our BPA software, Laserfiche, creates automatic document summaries, and the list goes on.

If you haven’t already checked out the new AI, take a few minutes, login, and ask it a few questions. Think about how you could use it to speed your day along. Look for it in upcoming product updates. Consider how you might use it for data analysis. Like any new thing, it has flaws, but it is here to stay and growing quickly into the everyday fiber of our business operations.

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