Friday 5 May 2023

Confessions of a IT trained Life Coach

Ok, I have a confession to make about my last blog post, Second Spaces: a Place to Belong. If you haven't read it yet, it may help to first.

Number one, I got the term a bit wrong, I think they are actually called Second Places, not spaces. I think I will continue to call them spaces however as the phrase second place is conjuring up images of being runner-up. My purpose on this blog and in my work as a life coach is to help everyone reach their full potential. So, second place is banished as not good enough. Everyone is a winner baby.

That is a minor admission compared to the main one. The identity of the author of the last post...

The background story was accurate, I did hear about a great concept whilst listening to Kate's Everyday Positivity on my Alexa. However, it was missing a key piece. On Tuesday evening, I was talking with some friends, in what I realised is one of my second spaces, about Chat GPT. Surprisingly, I have read and seen videos about it and its use but until this week had not tried or experimented with it. There are discussions about what this new level of human-like AI means for jobs where the written word is the output. Will newspaper articles be written by AI, TV show scripts generated by bots and adverts spewed out of algorithms?

So, Wednesday morning, I opened an Open AI account and headed to The first thought that came to mind was about food, so I asked "What should I have for breakfast?" The reply was well-written, and understandable with nothing that stood out as fake. It even included oatmeal, which is my breakfast of choice most mornings. I could say more about the technical nature of it but I am probably not expert enough to write that. This blog aims to share insights for living our best lives so I'll try to stick to that.

Those that are on the ball can probably guess where I am going with this. Also, I think I am far enough down the page that I'm not giving the game away too soon. After a few more interactions about non-dairy options, I opened a new conversation and asked, "Write a life coaching blog about the importance of second spaces". I'm not posting the reply here, as I did that already, as the main body of the last post. Yes, I got Chat GPT to write Second Spaces: a Place to Belong.

Before you write me off as a sellout, I'd like to explain why I decided to post the output of a glorified chatbot on my blog. 1) it actually did a good job and 2) I wanted to be able to share my experience of using AI and see what insights come up.

Rest assured I did quality assurance before publishing and there was one glaring error when I reviewed the post before posting it. The last sentence read, "Find a second space that resonates with you and", it did actually just stop with an and. I still had the chat session open so I politely asked for the rest and it obliged. I wonder if I hit a word limit or if it really didn't know that some words cannot be used to end a sentence with. (I know, I deliberately ended a sentence with a proposition for effect!)

Chat GPT gave clear information about second spaces and please don't let my experiment distract from the message. Having a sense of community and belonging to a place that is not just home or work, adds value to one's experience of life. So, what have I learnt? The style was certainly not my usual writing one. Typically, I experience an event in my life and realise a valuable insight about how we see life. I then write about the event and lesson. Obviously, AI doesn't have experiences to write about. If it tried would they have the same human-to-human appeal as those that I endeavour to share?

This is what I hope sets this blog and my coaching apart from others in the field. Discussing the nature of the common reality that each on every one of us experiences, hopefully causes something to resonate inside us, igniting a spark of connection. This illumination allows us to learn our own truths, we see our own insights that impact our journey through life.

Chassidic Judaism values the one-to-one encounter between a disciple and their master (Rebbe). The understanding is that during these encounters, on a spiritual level, a part of each person's soul interacts with that of the other. Similarly, my Three Principles training focussed on being present with others and sharing a part of myself. The real rawness is what has the power to impact and touch others.

In conclusion, AI may be able to replace certain roles and play a part in our lives. But by nature, the words written will be bland and lack that human level behind them. Once AI takes away the menial tasks, will we step up to being present and personable with those we share our lives with? Just as home appliances have reduced the time needed to run a home.

I peruse many census entries from over 100 years ago, in them, unpaid domestic duties was a very common occupation. The question to ask is, how was the time gained from automating laundry and washing up used? Was the time spent improving society, increasing household wealth and becoming better spouses and parents? Alternatively, did we just spend more time sitting in front of the TV? Microwaves are a great time saver but have they just reduced the need for the whole family to come together for meals. Instead, meals for one can be heated or reheated at any time of day and night.

Technology is a tool. What we do with it, and the extra time it makes available, is up to us. Choose wisely.