Happy anniversary ChatGPT

One year ago today, ChatGPT was released. It’s not that often that products truly change things. Whether you think artificial general intelligence is just a few years off or that it will remain a pipe dream forever, there’s no question that some form of AI is going to be part of so many products going forward.

AI is a tool. Even imperfect, it is incredibly useful. Looking back, I can’t believe I was so skeptical of its impact. I ignored ChatGPT for months.

This week I was creating a web page to show a grid of Micro.blog feature names, experimenting with different ways to highlight all of the things Micro.blog can do. I turned to ChatGPT to help me get started, like asking it this question:

Can you generate 10 colors that look kind of like #f80 and go good together?

Or this one:

Let’s say you have 87 HTML spans with id attributes 1 to 87. Write JS that randomizes the numbers 1 through 87, then loops over each one and sets it’s background color from an item in a list called colors.

And then:

Add a random delay before setting each color, from 1 to 2 seconds?

And so on. It probably saved me an hour. I’m still working on it, but you can see the result so far in this video.

This kind of functionality is why Microsoft’s “Copilot” branding is so good. AI is the little assistant that helps you with random tasks. Coding, brainstorming, writing. In the above examples, it didn’t replace my job. I still needed to take the output and tweak it, move things around, add my own code, think about the design.

Earlier this year when we added Twitter import to Micro.blog, I used AI to help make an illustration for the web page. I combined the output with my own sketches, compositing things together, adding color. AI was my junior artist assistant, helping me create something that I couldn’t dedicate enough time for on my own.

And in Micro.blog, we now use OpenAI to automatically transcribe podcasts for all Micro.blog Premium subscribers. I’m interested in finding more use cases like this: not using AI to replace our creativity — Micro.blog will always be about personal blogs, written by humans — but to automate tedious work.

I have no idea where AI will be in another year. I won’t obsess about it too much, and I won’t follow where it leads blindly, but I’m fascinated to watch it evolve, waiting for the opportunities that bring clear benefits to our work.

Manton Reece @manton