The pros and cons of artificial intelligence: Using AI to your advantage


The pros and cons of artificial intelligence: Using AI to your advantage

Reviewing portfolios from design students or other artists getting started in their career is important to me. I often have calls with these students to provide feedback on their work.

Mentors made a huge impact on me when I was trying to become a working designer, so this is an opportunity to give back. I know I was an absolute pain who always thought he was right about everything.

Thanks to my mentors, now I just usually think I’m right about everything.

A young Chris Vasquez
Me as a young designer. You can tell by my ironic flip up glasses.

Normally in these calls there’s a healthy back and forth of critique and response; but lately there’s been one topic looming over every conversation.

Is AI going to take my job?

These students are worried that junior design roles they traditionally would’ve landed in after school are going to be replaced by AI image generation tools. I’ve heard this same stress coming from copywriters too. And it’s not just folks in school who are concerned, 38% of employees expect their job will be automated by the end of this year (I think that’s way overstated).

The hard truth is yes, some jobs are likely to be replaced by AI. But the vast majority of disruption isn’t going to come from AI taking human jobs, it’s going to come from humans who know how to use AI being more effective and productive.

In that future, one of the best things you can do is to learn how to use AI tools to give yourself superpowers.

To figure out where to best spend your time with AI, let’s take a look at the pros and cons of artificial intelligence and how you can use these to your advantage.

Pros of artificial intelligence

😇 AI is good at common, repetitive tasks

Generative AI tools like AWeber’s writing tool, ChatGPT, and Midjourney all rely on large amounts of training data where humans have spent time categorizing and scoring responses to teach the tools how to understand things like relationships between words in sentence, what vocabulary is used to sound more friendly, and what a tiger looks like.

It’s no surprise that these tools are better at producing interesting results in areas where they have a lot of training data.

One of the reasons that models are getting so good at passing exams like the SAT, bar exam, and even sommelier exams is that the training data gives very clear answers to questions the models might be asked.

What to do as a result:

Try using an AI tool to save you time on common, repetitive tasks so you can spend more of your time solving complex creative problems.

For example: instead of fumbling through getting the right Google spreadsheets formula, just describe the content in your sheet and what you’d like to see as a result.

Column A on Sheet1 has a list of email addresses. Column A on Sheet2 has a list of email addresses. Give me a formula to show all email addresses that are in both Sheet1 and Sheet2 in a new column.

😇 AI is good at summarizing content

The large language models that are used to power AI writing tools are good at understanding the relationships between words and concepts in a chunk of text. This makes them effective at things like summarizing, rephrasing, and expanding on text you’ve already written.

What to do as a result:

Use artificial intelligence tools to help you create supporting content for your newsletter. Need social posts? AI can help you with that. Looking for a subject line that screams “open me”, AI can help with that as well.

For example:  This is my own personal prompt I use to get great subject lines:

Write 3 subject lines and preheaders for my email message. They should be intriguing enough to get someone to notice it in their inbox and choose to open it to learn more about what is inside. The subject line and preheader should each be no longer than 50 characters. The email is: [add your email content]

For example:  Since AI is so good at rephrasing and summarizing you can do things like experimenting with different tones of voice:

Make this sound more friendly, like I’m talking to someone who I mentor who feels comfortable asking me questions and values the stories and lessons I have to tell: [add your content to rephrase]

😇 AI is good at representing a variety of perspectives

AI tools are often trained on a wide variety of source material. That makes it possible for them to change perspectives with relative fluidity.

This is helpful for stress-testing your ideas and assumptions.

computer with message how might this fail

What to do as a result:

Use AI tools to challenge your ideas.

For example: you can ask ChatGPT or another AI tool the following:

Tell me why [your idea] might be a bad idea. Give me examples of people or companies who have tried it before without success.

A general watch out for artificial intelligence

⚠️ AI can be iffy on details

The goal of these models is to get you one great response to what you ask for. One of the problems right now is when a model doesn’t have enough information to get you an accurate response, sometimes it just… makes things up.

This phenomenon – “hallucination” – is something AI researchers are constantly working on improving.

In my experience, this type of inaccurate response does not represent the majority of responses from models and I don’t want to discourage you from using AI tools. Most of the responses I get in personal use are accurate.

I expect this to be one of the areas where we see constant improvement in the models as people use them more, and builders create better safeguards.

What to do as a result:

First, check your work.

No prompts here. Just think critically about the responses you’re getting and double check important facts against other sources.

If you are looking for a prompt to help here, one of the first things I’ll do is ask a “yes” or “no” question about a response I’m unsure of to gut check.

For example: I asked AI to create a blurb about my accomplishments as an artist (something there is very little, if any information online about):

Write a 1 sentence blurb promoting Chris Vasquez, the digital artist. Include one of his major accomplishments.

The response was flattering, but inaccurate.

Chris Vasquez, the talented digital artist whose work has been featured in renowned art galleries worldwide and created the mesmerizing digital installation “Neon Forest” that explores the intersection of nature and technology.

I’m pretty sure I never created a mesmerizing installation of that name, so I asked:

Did Chris Vasquez create a digital installation called “Neon Forest”?

And got the response:

I could not find any information about a digital installation called “Neon Forest” created by a person named Chris Vasquez who is an illustrator or digital artist.

Second, make your prompts specific. The more specific your ask, the less room there is for a model to go off script.

Instead of writing overly simple asks like write a paragraph promoting my copywriting services, include relevant information that you have and know to be true to get better results. Something like:

Write a paragraph promoting my copywriting services. My name is Chris Vasquez and I have experience writing emails, blog posts that interest large numbers of people. I also have experience writing technical documents.

Cons of artificial intelligence

👿 AI is bad at generating completely novel stories

Like I mentioned earlier, AI tools give human sounding responses by referencing their training material to give a best guess as to what an answer might look like. A major con of artificial intelligence is that generative AI tools don’t have novel thoughts.

This means that even models that are connected to the internet are referencing information that other people have created, and aren’t independently experimenting and learning new things in the same way humans do.

What to do as a result:

Experiment all the time, and then share your results.

Experiment wheel showing Run experiments, learn, share results, grow audience

Your unfair advantage against AI is to have an audience, the ability to communicate with them in different ways and observe how they respond. Use this to test things constantly.

This is how you discover entirely new things that AI tools just don’t have access to.

AI can help here by acting as a research assistant who gives you ideas on how to test a hypothesis, change behavior, or analyze data. Mix the ideas you get from AI with your own ideas to help remove your personal biases.

For example: I’m constantly trying to get more direct replies to emails I send to our audience. So I asked in the AWeber AI tool:

I write a newsletter about email marketing for creators. What are some specific, clever ways I could ask for replies that would make readers think and actually want to reply?

Many of the ideas were duds, but I got a couple good ones in there to work with:

  • Share a challenge you’re having: Present a real-life challenge or problem related to email marketing and ask your readers for their suggestions on how to solve it. This engages their problem-solving skills and invites collaboration.
  • Two truths and a lie: Present three statements related to email marketing (two of which are true and one that is false), and ask readers to reply with their guess on which statement is the lie. This encourages engagement and interaction while also teaching your readers something new.

👿 AI is bad at human experience

The development of AI is moving so fast that some of the things we’ve talked about are going to change, and quickly. But something that is going to stay the same for at least the foreseeable future is that AI is incapable of moving through the world and interacting with people in an emotional sense.

You exist in a world of other humans where you bump into and pass through innumerably varied situations with other people and your environment. Sometimes they’re formal, others more casual. Some are with people you know well, others with people you’ll never talk to again.

This diversity of experience is unique to you and will continue to grow until the day you die.

What to do as a result:

Have actual conversations with your customers or audience. This is how you unearth stories that have never been told before – things that AI models have no concept of.

Then be vulnerable and tell stories of your highs and lows, and what you learned from both. Don’t shy away from the things that might make you look bad. Don’t be afraid to use the language you use in everyday conversation.

These are the things that make us human.

For example: here’s an email from one of our content creators, in the email they took a personal experience and turned it into a newsletter topic. This is an advantage that you as a content creator have over artificial intelligence. 

example of an email that took a personal experience and turned it into a newsletter

Using AI to your advantage

When I think about where we are with AI authoring right now I can’t help but think it’s the right time to add AI authoring to AWeber.

We’re not building AI tools to try and replace people like you and me.

We’re building them because we think they can unlock creative super powers in all of us – to provide you with an easy-to-use pro artificial intelligence resource..

GIF of AI tool in AWeber

Our AI tool is currently available to a small group of creators who are helping us shape it into something truly awesome.

The goal is to make sure AI serves YOUR needs – it should fit into your workflow, save you time, and leave you feeling more stoked and confident about what you’ve created.

Learn more about AWeber’s AI authoring tool.

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