How I’m using “AI”

An honest roundup of what I personally think of “AI” and how it genuinely has its uses in my day-to-day work.

I put “AI” in quotes in my writing because the current iteration of “AI” is hardly intelligent. But, whether I like it or not, it is the colloquial term right now.

I don’t think it’s a surprise to anyone that I am certifiably Not A Fan™ of “AI” either. I don’t like art and culture being diluted into unseasoned slop and I certainly don’t like “AI” being a cause of mass-layoffs and putting people in real danger in a lot of cases.

It does have its uses though as an assistant of sorts. Something that can automate the boring, meaningless stuff we have to do on a day-to-day basis, so I thought I’d jot down some things I use it for.

Working with React

Speaking of boring, what’s more boring that writing a React component? It’s the same old each time and if you are extremely specific with your prompts, there’s usually only a tiny bit of refactoring to do. This is great for me as someone who would much rather spend their time on more important things like semantics, usability and CSS.

It’s also been very useful for our junior developer because Chat GPT is pretty damn good at working out where a component is falling down and throwing errors too. It’s been a real help for them because when you’re a junior, the last thing you want to be doing is spending hours debugging. This loses more than those hours because getting back the positive momentum is really hard.

Taking meeting notes

I like to really listen in client meetings and something that’s always been at odds with that is needing to take notes. I’m lucky that I can touch type, so can quite comfortably take notes while still appearing to be engaged in the conversation.

The thing is, I never truly was engaged in the conversations because I was frantically taking notes. I spotted Fireflies a few months ago and even though it’s creepy having a bot in the room with you (lol), it’s pretty damn good at transcribing meetings. Sure it messes up with what I say a lot — thanks to a rather strong Yorkshire accent — but it’s more useful than not. Importantly, I can fully focus on the conversations now.

Doing boring stuff

I can’t stand doing admin, which for a business owner is a conflict of interest, I know. What I do like about Chat GPT is it can take a load of data and answer questions about it without me having to do a load of boring analysis. I love that actually.

There’s simple things too, like generating me a markdown table or converting my British English into American English in certain contexts.

Another rather useful thing is when I’m working in a 100% CSS codebase, Chat GPT can write me little utility classes based on some CSS Custom Properties. That’s a huge timesaver and has been chipping away at our reliance on tools like Tailwind to generate utilities and Custom Properties from JSON design tokens. More on that in the future, I promise.

All in all, “AI” sure saves me time by taking boring stuff off my plate and that is really important to me.

Answering simple questions

Google is an absolute mess. Even more so as they inject even more “AI” — which is serving up answers from decade old Reddit and The Onion content, as an example.

Even before that, Google has been garbage for a long time because the SEO industry has already slashed the usefulness of the search engine. Usually, even to get a simple answer, you have to trawl through tonnes of slop to get to it thanks to that. Online recipes are a good example of the damage that’s been done.

Even though Chat GPT lies a lot — or what the VC’s who have bet on it like to call “hallucinating” — for simple stuff like “how do I filter an array by X Y or Z” can be answered in seconds, rather than a few frustrating minutes.

Wrapping up

Do I think “AI” is the revolution that it is being touted as? Absolutely not. The only revolution is when everyone gets fed up of “AI” being stuffed in their face and starts to fight back at a much larger scale than currently.

Do I think though, that “AI” is a pretty good spicy autocomplete? Yeh for sure, I’ll give it that.

There will be more interesting stuff coming down the pipe, but for now, there’s clearly not many working in “AI” that are actual visionaries, focusing on improving humanity, but instead, the Patagonia vest wearing tech bros are hyper-focused on replacing art, culture and humanity with it.