At this point, it’s safe to say most of us have heard the term ‘AI’ used in the context of the latest and greatest (or scariest) technology. Taking it one step further, you may also be familiar with the name ChatGPT, and perhaps you even use it yourself, but according to Pew Research, you probably don’t. In a poll they took earlier this year, only about 15% of Americans had used ChatGPT, although 60% had heard about it. Chat GPT has been getting so much attention in the media since it launched in November 2022, mostly because it is unlike any other technology tool that has ever been available for individual use, in particular, its extent and range of capabilities. But all that media attention doesn’t mean we all understand ChatGPT or what we can use it for! I will get into that in a minute as it relates to how we can put Chat GPT to work as our personal coach, but first, a quick overview of the basics.
The company that created ChatGPT is called OpenAI, founded in 2015 as an artificial intelligence research company backed by some heavy-hitter investors, including Elon Musk. In November of 2022, the first version of ChatGPT became available to the public, and at that point, there was a waiting list to be one of the first users. (I was on that list and received an email when my name was up, like waiting for a restaurant table and the buzzer letting you know to hustle back to the host stand to be seated). ChatGPT has already had some upgraded versions and is currently a ‘freemium’ model where the basic version is free and higher tier versions with additional bells and whistles have a monthly subscription price.
If you are a Star Wars fan, ChatGPT is sort of like the droid C-3PO, minus all the shiny brass, but with way more knowledge. You may have had some experience with ‘chatbots’ if you have been on a website and a box pops up asking if you need some help. You type in what you are trying to do (return an item, for example), and the digital ‘chat’ assistant helps as much as possible until your question is answered or escalated to an actual human being. ChatGPT is sort of like a superpowered version, hence the ‘Chat’ in its name. The GPT is for ‘generative pre-trained transformer’, basically a computer brain (neural network) that generates answers to our questions (the prompts we give ChatGPT) by pulling information from anywhere on the internet, then compiling that information using artificial intelligence to form conclusions and unique ‘thoughts’ and provide us whatever information we requested. Because Chat GPT is built to utilize machine learning, the feedback it receives millions of times a day from users worldwide results in its abilities and accuracy to continually be refined and improved as it gets ‘smarter.’ ChatGPT uses natural language, so interacting with it is much like having a normal conversation with a genius friend if your friend could instantly deliver whatever request you threw at them, 24/7 without complaint.
Consider the following as a quick example of why educators in K-12, as well as college, have concerns about what ChatGPT means for disruptive technology to the student learning process. Any writing assignment or report can now be ‘outsourced’ instantly and for free. If a student were to put a prompt into ChatGPT such as “pretend you are a high school senior and write a 3-page paper on the economy of the Lehigh Valley, PA from the 1950’s to the 1980’s and write it to be slightly humorous”. Three seconds later, the students would have their paper written to sound like it’s in their voice. Another prompt example: “As an MBA student, write a five-page financial analysis of the auto industry leaders related to electronic vehicles and global market share. Include stock pick recommendations for publicly traded suppliers to the E.V. market that will likely show 10% or greater growth in the next 12 months. Explain the reasoning behind your stock picks based on recent financial news in the Wall Street Journal ”. In this example, what would typically take the MBA student hours of research (and learning!) is instantly done, and there is no trace of plagiarism because it is an entirely original document that ChatGPT wrote specifically for that prompt. It is worth mentioning that ChatGPT is not perfect, and some of the information it comes back with can contain some factual errors, but that’s to be expected during these early days of the learning curve.
Now, let’s get to the real meat and potatoes of what ChatGPT can do for you in everyday life regarding health and wellness. Think of ChatGPT as a personal coach in the sense that you can put in any prompt related to specific goals you are trying to accomplish and a detailed plan for whatever duration of time you specify.
For example: “Jake is a man in his 40s who wants to improve his overall fitness and lose weight. Jake is 6 feet tall and 180 lbs. and would like to lose 10 pounds. He has tried several diets unsuccessfully and is looking for a more sustainable approach. Develop a 12-week training program that includes a mix of cardiovascular and strength training exercises and a nutrition plan that emphasizes whole, nutrient-dense foods. Provide a weekly summary followed by a daily plan and include optimal sleep (7 hours a night) and proper hydration in the planning.”
ChatGPT will provide a detailed summary based on that prompt, and if there is anything that ‘Jake’ didn’t like, he could type in the chat box, “Good, but how about adding more body weight exercises twice a week, and let’s add some more fruit to the plan.” ChatGPT would make those revisions and give a new plan. The endless possibilities can be applied to any goals or habits you try to implement regarding life improvement areas.
That said, I certainly don’t see ChatGPT as a better option than an actual human coach, nutritionist, or trainer, but the reality is that many people do not have the resources to include that person in their monthly budget. With ChatGPT, you can instantly access custom-built resources at no charge, 24/7.
To get started with ChatGPT, click this link and hit the ‘New Chat’ button. Once you create an account and start interacting with ChatGPT, all your previous chats will be saved and provide a history of your conversations and topics.
For a list of prompt ideas related to fitness, check out this link:
To wrap it up, AI is a rapidly evolving technology and will continue to play an increasing role in many parts of our everyday life. We do not need to be a technology guru to take advantage of the benefits that are already available to us any more than we need to be a computer expert to use Google or the Amazon Alexa device in our house. Just like those tools, you may find ChatGPT a very handy digital assistant for many things on your daily to-do list. I hope you have your health and wellness at the top of that list!