Reimagining how we use AI, with Declan Dunn of the AI Optimist Podcast

by | HPC News

There’s been a lot of gloom and doom about GenAI in the media lately — so it was delightful to speak with Declan Dunn, someone who’s highly optimistic (yet still pragmatic) about all things AI. In fact, Declan’s outlook is so sunny, it’s right there in his show name: The AI Optimist Podcast.

I had the pleasure of talking with Declan about reimagining how we use GenAI.

We did spend some time talking about some of GenAI’s weaknesses, too — but all the spirit of understanding its strengths, and how it can best help us create excellent content.

Jessica Mehring on the ai optimist podcast












Our conversation fits in beautifully with some of my recent research on why and how people use GenAI, as part of my graduate studies in communication at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs.

Here are some highlights from the interview.

ChatGPT is not making your writing better

Let’s start with the bad news: In professional settings, it’s not likely that using ChatGPT or other GenAI tools is making your writing better.

As part of my graduate work, I did a literature review and found that in business situations, using ChatGPT cut writing time in half — but doubled editing time. It also made no difference in the quality of the writing.

So if you’re using generative AI to write your content, it’s probably not making you a better or faster content creator.

It also has other limitations:

  • It tends to produce mediocre, generic writing since it can’t replicate human experience, introduce its own opinion or do truly rich storytelling.
  • GenAI actually “hallucinates,” and can make up false information, quotes or sources. This is why it’s so important to fact-check all GenAI output!
  • We’re already seeing evidence of model collapse, meaning new generative models are being trained on existing AI-generated content. This leads to repetitive or highly predictable responses.
  • Generative AI can be biased in its output due to the imbalances and prejudices present in the data it was trained on. We must be careful not to reflect and amplify existing societal biases when we use these tools.

So what are the smartest ways to use ChatGPT, as a content creator?

One of the biggest ways I use GenAI is to identify my own blind spots.

Here’s how that works: I write a piece of content first, then use ChatGPT to summarize it and help me think through how to expand the piece. Inevitably, I’ll find gaps in the writing, or angles I hadn’t considered.

Using GenAI to challenge your thinking in this way adds color to the writing and can really bring out the best in your content.

I also use ChatGPT as an expanded thesaurus, to help me find richer vocabulary or analogies, or to create outlines for my pieces. It’s great to have it in my toolbox — but it’s a tool for helping me think through my writing, not a replacement for what I do. Artists use paintbrushes as tools, and I use ChatGPT as a tool in the same way.

Listen in to learn more

Declan Dunn shares my thoughtful approach to generative AI, and it was enlightening to talk to him about the trends we’re seeing and how people can use these new platforms to enhance the content creation process.

Click here to listen to the full interview on the AI Optimist podcast.

Want me to be on your podcast — or better yet, come talk to your organization in person? Get in touch with me here.