Punxsutawney Phil certainly got it right this year. He saw his shadow on February 2, and as predicted, six-plus gloomy and record-breaking cold weeks of winter ensued.
Days Without Sunlight
Sunshine eluded us for days—even weeks—at a time in the Midwest where I live and elsewhere in landlocked areas of the United States. In Chicago from February through March, The National Weather Service clocked only 11 days of full sunshine. What the Hell?!
Panic in the Garden
And on top of that, record-breaking cold brought multiple bouts of frost and snow that stemmed Spring blooms and pushed landscaping schedules back like dominos falling. Gardeners are still in a tizzy.
Since ringing in the New Year, the water-cooler talk among my fellow exercisers at my health club has been a lot about the seemingly endless days without sun and warmth and how much it adversely affects our motivation and happiness. I often skipped workouts to stay in bed or stream hours of shows from my couch, while sulking in the grey.
Lack of sunshine results in sadness, depression and anxiety for many individuals, according to Healthline.
“Without enough sun exposure, your serotonin levels can dip. Low levels of serotonin are associated with a higher risk of major depression with seasonal pattern (formerly known as seasonal affective disorder or SAD). This is a form of depression triggered by the changing seasons.“
Cleveland Clinic suggests getting 10 to 15 minutes of sunlight each day to boost serotonin levels.
Can you imagine the sight of us deprived of our biggest star for long periods, seeking out slivers of yellow rays like zombies emerging from caves?
During our sunshine apocalypse, the amount of diagnosis and treatments of depression by mental health practitioners continues increase, according to Forbes HEALTH.
Pyschotherapy Remedies During the Dark Days
According to Greta Nielsen, MA, LCPC and co-owner and Pyschotherapist at Illuminate Therapy & Wellness, “One of the best predictors for your ability to maintain your emotional, mental, and physical wellness during the winter months is to keep the routines and habits you have for the rest of the seasons. Exercise, healthy eating, sleep hygiene, staying connected and engaged in your relationships and roles; be it paid or volunteer work, and having a relaxation practice all contribute to one’s overall wellness.”
Mental Health Month
Fittingly, the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) has declared May 1-31 as Mental Health Awareness Month. Visit their website for resources, including a toolkit that sheds light on mental health issues and how to spread the word.
My friends, we’re in the final stretch of our lingering winter and abysmal Spring. With May here, we’re inching closer to the summer season and more daily sunlight!
Heads Up: This blog post is co-authored with ChatGPT
Since ChatGPT is being served up in the middle of a smorgasbord of shoulds or should nots, why not give my piece of the pie and dish a little.
At the crux of most of the concern over the use of ChatGPT is its threat to original, creative and authentic output from “authors,” whether they be professional writers, students and pretty much anyone who puts pen to paper or fingers to keyboard.
In the spirit of full disclosure and transparency, I’m gonna let the technology speaks for itself by answering the question, “What is ChatGPT.” Here’s what it had to say:
“Hello! I am ChatGPT, a large language model created by OpenAI. I am based on the GPT-3.5 architecture and designed to generate human-like responses to natural language inputs. I have been trained on a diverse corpus of text, including books, articles, and websites, and can answer a wide range of questions on various topics. My goal is to assist users in finding information and engaging in conversation.”—generated by ChatGPT, Mar 22, 2023 from OpenAI.com
And here’s what some pundits are musing about this new member of the AI family:
“Around three-quarters of teachers say that ChatGPT can help their students learn more and help them grow as teachers. Among students, 68 percent believe the program can help them become better students and 75 percent think it helps them learn faster.” – Education Week, By Arianna Prothero, Mar 3, 2023.
“ChatGPT can’t replace reasoning or critical thinking. While AI tools can make essays read better, they can’t replace knowing how to form thoughts into careful arguments.” – Daniel Fahm, University of Oklahoma, a medical student in the Wall Street Journal, Opinion, Jan 23, 2023.
“The adjustment period will come as a shock to the education system. This is normal for major changes throughout history, such as the Gutenberg Press, the internet or the personal computer. We can remain optimistic, however, that the good faith of most students and faculty will make this technological advancement a net positive.” —Rafael Arbex-Murut, University of California, Berkeley, information and data science, in the Wall Street Journal, Opinion, Jan 23, 2023.
“I think schools should have ChatGPT blocked because it ruins the whole idea of schools.” –Tim, Hinsdale Central High School.
“…it is extremely useful for assignments. Not just because it answers all of your questions that you ask, but it completely destroys the use of tutors.” – Kaden, VSN [High School] in The New York Times, by The Learning Network, Feb 2, 2023.
“Some worried that ChatGPT would rob them of their motivation, creativity and critical thinking; others that it would lead to widespread cheating. But several [high school] teenagers argued that A.I. is the future, and schools should embrace it rather than restrict it. At least one student thought all of this was an overreaction: ‘Everyone needs to chill out! she wrote. ‘ChatGPT is certainly not the end of the world, nor the eradication of writing as a whole.’” –The New York Times, by The Learning Network, Feb 2, 2023.
From the Tech Sector
“Never before has powerful new AI gone from lab to consumer-facing products so fast (referring to the latest iteration GPT4)… And yet large language models remain fundamentally flawed. GPT-4 can still generate biased, false, and hateful text; it can also still be hacked to bypass its guardrails —MIT Technology Review, Mar 14, 2023. This article also posed that the model could help us “understand the world better.” Yet it also cited that it is cost ineffective for small companies, including startups.
“Definitely a transformative technology.” – Peggy Johnson, CEO of Magic Leap, Davos, Switzerland, quoted in Business Insider, Jan 18, 2023
From Marketers, Content Strategists
“One of the biggest concerns in the whole debate about ChatGPT is that the tool will negatively affect marketers. There’s a fear it will replace specific roles, including writers, programmers, PPC experts, and SEO specialists. But there’s also a fear it will wipe out marketing agencies entirely.” – Digital Marketer, by Thomas von Ahn, Feb 27, 2023.
“My biggest concern with AI-generated content is that we’ll use it simply to create more, not better, content. More micro-copy, more emails, more tweets, more blog posts…more. We’re about to enter a world where we create robots to create more noise, which will require new robots to filter it out.” – Derek Philips, LinkedIn, Feb 6, 2023.
“Will AI eliminate a wide range of existing job roles? Even though AI capabilities will continue to grow, it seems far more likely that AI will change a wide range of existing job roles. AI-based programs have the potential to heavily automate tasks or produce unique insights, but they might never get past the point of needing some degree of oversight.” — CompTIA, by Seth Robinson, Feb 15, 2023.
“AI copywriting platforms’ primary audience, at least for now, is non-marketers and non-writers. Non-marketers who feel they don’t have the skills, budget, or resources to produce copy for their marketing needs now have an online option they can utilize (although the need for an editor still applies). Still, marketers shouldn’t underestimate the increasing role that AI could play in marketing in the future, especially as these platforms improve and evolve. In the meantime, these platforms are operating in the background, while established marketers continue to lead the industry forward.” – “What Marketers Need to Know About AI Copywriting,” AMA Chicago Blog, by Karolyn Raphael, March 2023.
“…everyone gets on the bandwagon. They’re like, ‘Look at me! I’m using it and now I’m an expert, and now my company is all about servicing people with AI, and blah blah blah.’ And people will call themselves experts before knowing what’s going to happen even a little way down the road. It’s also like a distraction for people as they ask themselves ‘should I use this shiny object?’t I wanted to wait until the hype died down. Some of these people have now forgotten about this product, and now the real people who are gonna use this long-term are gonna have a plan. Those are the people I wanna listen to.” Shaily Hakimian, Social Media Sherpa on LinkedIn, March 15, 2023
From Mindfulness, Dharma, Spiritual Practitioners
“ChatGPT is possibly the most fascinating new development in tech since the search engine…merging spirituality with cutting edge tech.” – Jack Kornfield, American Buddhist teacher and founder of Spirit Rock Meditation Center, Mar 22, 2023
“The current generation of students has moved on from writing. Literally. Most students fail to see the relevance of writing in a world—their world—that is largely post-literate. They are at home in media not yet born when I began teaching, media that privilege images and sounds over written text. This does not spell the end of the world, but it does spell ‘tbh, dwbi.’ As New York Times Columnist Zeynep Tufekci explains, just as we adapted to earlier leaps in communications technology, we can do so with artificial intelligence and language models.” – Robert Zaretsky, The American Scholar, Jan 12, 2023
As it should be, the debate stretches across a wide spectrum of pros and cons, optimism and pessimism, along with a heavy dose of respectful thoughtfulness. And I say, “Bring it on!” I believe in the benefits of artificial intelligence and other technological advances that help us solve and evolve. At the same time, I firmly believe in the power of humanity to keep those advances in check and help shape them into extraordinary benefits and improvements.
History tells us to remain open, optimistic, aware, knowledgeable, exploratory, investigative, and in my opinion, consistently challenging the status quo that can force improvements or disposal. Remember learning about the gasps with the invention of the Gutenberg press, the shock of electricity, the malaise over motor cars, the triteness of television, the irritation with the internet and more. Most if not all of these innovations were met with staunch resistance and protests. Yet, here we are, surviving and thriving with technological changes.
My conclusion is that technology like ChatGPT can benefit humanity in many ways, as long as we continue to push for the parameters to achieve them with authenticity and integrity on highest level.
So, I end this post giving my co-author the final words (unedited in highlighted blocks) about creative writing, the topic most apropos to the issue at hand:
“Creative writing is the art of expressing oneself through the written word. It is a form of artistic expression that involves imagination, storytelling, and the use of language to create a unique and original piece of literature. Whether you are an aspiring writer or simply looking to explore your creative side, there are a few tips and techniques that can help you improve your skills and develop your own style:
Start with an idea: The first step in creative writing is to come up with an idea. This could be a character, a setting, a theme, or a plot. Take some time to brainstorm and jot down any ideas that come to mind. Don’t worry about whether they are good or bad at this point – just get them down on paper.
Develop your characters: Once you have an idea, it’s time to start fleshing out your characters. Who are they? What do they want? What are their strengths and weaknesses? The more you know about your characters, the more real and believable they will become.
Set the scene: Your setting is just as important as your characters. Where does your story take place? What is the atmosphere like? Is it sunny and warm, or dark and foreboding? Use descriptive language to create a vivid picture in the reader’s mind.
Choose your perspective: Will you tell your story from a first-person point of view, or a third-person point of view? This will have a big impact on how your story is perceived by the reader.
Use figurative language: Metaphors, similes, and other forms of figurative language can add depth and complexity to your writing. They can also help to create a specific mood or tone.
Show, don’t tell: Instead of telling the reader what is happening, show them through action and dialogue. This will make your writing more engaging and immersive.
Edit and revise: Writing is a process, and the first draft is rarely perfect. Take the time to revise and edit your work until it is polished and ready to be shared with the world.
Creative writing is a rewarding and fulfilling form of self-expression. Whether you are writing for your own enjoyment or hoping to share your work with others, there is no limit to what you can create. So go ahead, let your imagination run wild, and see where your writing takes you.”