There are now lots of AI-powered writing apps out there and essentially what they do is to use artificial intelligence to help you write faster and more accurately and there are also more and more note-taking apps that are using AI such as Mem, Notion and Logseq.
While AI writing apps are incredibly useful for writers and creators to generate content fast AI note taking apps are great for noting down new things in general. But just how helpful are they for really learning a topic?
With Chat-GPT picking up 1 million new users in the first few days of launching. I want to share with you some of my thoughts on what generative AI means for learning and studying and why you don't want to sleep on AI if you're studying for exams.
What Is Generative AI
Okay so generative AI is a type of artificial intelligence that can create new things like images, text, and even music based on the prompts that you give it.
OpenAI is a company that has been working on AI algorithms since 2014. Their text-based AI is called GPT which stands for Generative Pre-trained Transformer and this allows for a small amount of input text to generate large volumes of relevant and sophisticated machine-generated text.
What's cool is you can give GPT any kind of prompt and then receive a large volume of pretty accurate text back. OpenAI also has an image generating algorithm that can create images from nothing and a code generating algorithm that can actually output lines of functioning code which is pretty wild.
What's interesting is that OpenAI is a commercial company that charges for the amount of text or images generated and it's algorithms like GPT get smarter and more accurate as more people use it for different functions and it becomes better trained.
Now OpenAI isn't specific to any particular industry or to studying and so lots of apps and companies have popped up which use GPT or DALL-E at their core but provide a specific interface like a copywriting app like Jasper or a photo creation app like Lensa where you can upload your own photos and get some pretty fun images back or note-taking and learning apps like Mem, Shiken, Notion and Logseq.
Using AI For Studying
So focusing down on notetaking and learning apps how can AI like GPT be used for studying and will it help us to learn?
Well AI has a number of really interesting functions that some apps have already been taking advantage of.
Apps like Grammarly and Quillbot have been using GPT and similar algorithms to speed up grammar correction and simplifying prose. This is really helpful if you struggle with writing and these apps not only spot spelling and grammatical errors but you can actually use them to re-phrase and simplify content which is great
One big issue for teachers when creating exams or tests is that actually thinking about the questions and writing them out can take time. If you're a student, accessing questions to test yourself using active recall can be tricky as question banks cost money and user-generated content may not be accurate.
Enter generative AI where you can ask the AI to write a question and even provide an explanation and distractor answers.
Generative AI is able to take a block of text and create bullet points from it to summarize the key points.
Even more impressively applications like ChatGPT can summarize books and specific topics even without the text provided by searching the internet.
Getting Fast Explanations
The release of Chat-GPT with it's more conversational text-message style of interface has meant that GPT accessibility is now much easier. Instead of having to write specific or technical prompts to get the best answers you can now have a conversation just like Tony Stark's AI Jarvis.
Often if I'm deeply focused it can be distracting having to google and validate explanations to a problem I'm trying to solve and searching through text-books for explanations that you can understand can be very frustrating. With Chat-GPT you can literally ask it to explain a complex topic you are struggling with to you in simple terms, a bit like having a tutor on hand 24/7. This obviously has some limitations with more complex topics like medicine and you need to be careful about how accurate the information is but as an equivalent to a quick google search it's pretty comprehensive.
The Problem with AI For Studying
The main issue with using AI for notetaking and learning is that the automation element, while time-saving, removes that element of focused active engagement with the source material required to learn.
When taking traditional notes yiu need to think about the material and which points are the most important to then note down. Equally the process of creating active recall questions leads to learning.
Most AI note taking apps are set up to help people create content rather than to learn.