What is AI?

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a huge field encompassing a broad range of theories, technologies, and practices. When someone says ‘AI’ in 2024 it is more likely than not that they mean generative deep neural networks like GPT-4. We will restrict the scope of our advice to these generative AI tools.

We are accustomed to thinking of software as a tool. Microsoft Excel is like a (very fancy) digital wrench: it does exactly, and only, what you instruct it to do, step-by-step. To get proficient with this type of tool you need to read the manual and invest time in training. Almost all the software that we’ve worked with up to this point in our lives is of a similar nature.

The most productive mental framework for interacting with current-generation LLM-based chatbots like Bing, ChatGPT, and Claude is to imagine that you are speaking with a very knowledgeable, enthusiastic, and naïve intern. If you have an expectation that software will do only exactly what you tell it, that expectation will be subverted. Likewise, if you have an expectation that software will not offer its own opinions, or occasionally challenge your instructions, you may be surprised!

How should I use AI?

Experiment and share! The reality is that nobody knows how to optimally use generative AI. Each use case for AI is likely specialized to the role, and person, using AI. The more time you spend using this technology, and experimenting with it, the greater the payoff to your productivity. It won’t do magic for you “out of the box”, but you can accelerate your learning by reading about the successes of others with similar use cases.

Our AI journey ahead

Feedback, comments, and questions are welcomed by email to caio@uwo.ca. What you read here is a first step in a long journey. This advice will evolve as the technology, and our understanding of it, grows. Town halls, surveys, and other opportunities to engage in dialogue on this topic are in planning and will be communicated broadly, including on this site.


If you would like to invite Mark to speak to your team please email caio@uwo.ca.