When tackling any task, the most creative and lateral thinking is often required at the beginning and end, while the middle part involves more grinding and hard work. Let's take a closer look at these examples to better understand this pattern:
Example 1: Writing an essay
- Beginning: At the start of an essay, you need to brainstorm ideas, decide on a thesis statement, and outline the structure. This requires creative and lateral thinking to come up with unique perspectives and organize your thoughts effectively.
- Middle: The middle part consists of researching evidence, writing paragraphs, and supporting your thesis with relevant information. This process can be time-consuming and repetitive, as you have to go through multiple sources, gather information, and present it logically.
- End: Finally, you need to revise, edit, and polish the essay. This stage involves higher-order thinking skills, such as critical analysis and evaluation, to ensure your essay is coherent, well-structured, and persuasive.
Example 2: Researching a new subject
- Beginning: At the outset of researching a new subject, you need to identify your goals, formulate research questions, and develop a plan of action. This requires creativity and lateral thinking to design an effective approach and make connections between various ideas.
- Middle: The middle part involves gathering data, reading articles, and synthesizing information from different sources. This process can be laborious and monotonous, as it requires meticulous attention to detail and consistency in extracting and organizing information.
- End: Towards the end, you need to analyze, interpret, and draw conclusions from the gathered data. This stage requires higher-order thinking skills, like critical analysis and evaluation, to ensure your research findings are accurate, meaningful, and contribute to a better understanding of the subject.
In both examples, the beginning and end stages require creative and lateral thinking, while the middle part is more focused on grinding and hard work. By using AI tools like ChatGPT in the middle stages, you can free up more time for the creative aspects, enhancing your learning experience and producing higher-quality work. This flow leverages our human strength of ideation and lateral thinking without feeling like we're cheating.
Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs)
Before we discuss the AI-human collaboration, let's first understand SOPs. Standard Operating Procedures are a set of step-by-step instructions created to help individuals or teams execute tasks consistently and efficiently. Think of them as templates for task execution. In the past, executing these SOPs often required a (virtual) assistant, but now AI, like ChatGPT, can handle them!
AI in the Middle Workflow
- Human comes up with an initial idea + reusable template.
- AI executes the template (may take several iterations).
- Human does final editing/polishing.
For example, let's say you're writing an essay about the benefits of AI in education. You could provide ChatGPT with a prompt like: "Write an introduction to an essay discussing the benefits of AI in education." The more high-level thinking you do, the more detailed you can make this prompt, by including context like the audience who will read this essay, any of your pre-existing opinions on the topic, personal experiences you'd like to include in the essay, and the tone of voice to use throughout. Each of these will improve the task description (SOP).
You then hand the task to ChatGPT, and it will generate a well-written introduction. You can evaluate this (again, a higher-order thinking task), and give ChatGPT directions to improve it ("make it more persuasive", "use a less formal tone of voice" etc).
Once you have gotten the maximum out of ChatGPT, it's time to bring in the final human touch and refine and polish.
This approach leverages both human and AI strengths. The human contributes high-level lateral thinking (higher-order learning), while the AI takes care of lower-level execution.
Isn't That Cheating?
By incorporating AI like ChatGPT into the execution process, we can reap numerous learning benefits, while still preserving integrity (whether in academics of professionally):
- Efficiency: AI can process information and execute tasks much faster than a human assistant, significantly reducing the time spent on repetitive tasks. This means you can allocate more time to understanding and analyzing the subject matter.
- Enhancing learning through SOP/template creation: Writing effective SOPs or templates for AI to execute requires higher-order thinking and a deep understanding of the subject matter. By creating these SOPs or templates, you're not only helping the AI work efficiently but also improving your own learning and mastery of the topic.
- Consistency: AI can follow SOPs to the letter, ensuring uniformity in the quality of work produced. This consistency helps you build a solid foundation for your understanding of a topic.
- Freeing up time for higher-level thinking: AI takes over the most tedious parts of the task, allowing us to focus on creative problem-solving and innovative ideas. By letting the AI handle the heavy lifting, you can concentrate on developing your critical thinking and analytical skills.
- Leveraging human strengths: This workflow allows us to focus on ideation and lateral thinking, ensuring the content we produce is both original and creative. By combining your own unique perspective with the AI-generated content, you're not cheating but rather collaborating with the AI to reach a more comprehensive understanding.
Collaborating with AI for Success
Whether you're writing an essay, researching a new subject, or doing any other kind of creative task, this AI in the Middle workflow can greatly enhance your learning experience. By focusing on creative and lateral thinking, while allowing ChatGPT to handle the repetitive tasks, you'll have more time to develop your critical thinking skills, dive deeper into the subject matter, and produce higher-quality work.