Chat GPT is the AI chat bot that is taking over the internet. At first glance it seems amazing and feels almost straight out of a Sci-Fi movie. It seems like a total game-changer.
As a researcher and PhD student at King’s College London, my days consist of balancing my time between lots of different projects. From basic admin to data analysis and writing papers, on numerous different projects.
When I first started to use ChatGPT I was trying to write some code that would help me analyse my data. I couldn’t work out why it wasn’t working, and previously I would have spent potentially hours re-writing and fiddling to make it work. But on this day, I copied the code into ChatGPT and asked it what the issue was. Within 5 minutes my code was working, and I had saved myself time and effort that I could now put towards the next task on my list.
To me, this felt priceless, I saw a future where this technology could massively help with my workload, productivity, and wellbeing. By saving time on easier tasks, it can give us the space and time to focus on what really matters in our work.
As a researcher in mental health, I was keen to investigate if there are any potential uses for this technology for improving mental wellbeing, above and beyond helping with productivity.
I decided to ask an expert, ChatGPT itself.
This is what this sophisticated AI model had to say about the pros and cons of itself and its’ potential impact on our mental wellbeing.
OpenAI's ChatGPT is changing the game of ‘natural language’ processing as we know it. This powerful model has the ability to understand and process ‘natural language’ input, making conversations with ChatGPT almost as seamless as talking to a real person. Trained on a massive amount of data, ChatGPT's responses are often so human-like that it's hard to tell the difference between its responses and that of a flesh-and-blood conversationalist. With ChatGPT, the possibilities for language learning and communication are endless. As we continue to witness the impressive advancements in ‘natural language processing technology’, it's clear that ChatGPT and models like it will continue to reshape the way we interact with and understand language in our daily lives.
How can ChatGPT help with our wellbeing? The emergence of ChatGPT has the potential to transform the mental health landscape in several ways. First and foremost, it provides a safe and non-judgmental space for people to discuss their mental health concerns. Many people find it difficult to open up about their struggles with mental health, even to friends and family members. ChatGPT can provide a confidential and anonymous platform for individuals to share their experiences and seek advice. In addition to providing a safe space for discussion, ChatGPT can also offer valuable insights and resources. The model is capable of analysing a user's input and generating personalized responses based on their unique needs and circumstances. For example, if someone expresses feelings of anxiety, ChatGPT can provide coping strategies and recommend resources such as meditation apps or therapy services. One potential concern with ChatGPT is the risk of over-reliance. While the model is an impressive tool, it is not a substitute for human interaction and support. It's essential to remember that ChatGPT is an AI system and not a licensed therapist or medical professional. It's crucial that individuals seek professional help if they are experiencing severe mental health concerns.
Chat GPT can also be a useful tool for individuals who struggle with time management or organization. The model can help break down complex tasks into manageable steps and provide guidance on how to approach different types of assignments. This can help reduce stress and anxiety associated with feeling overwhelmed or unsure of where to start. Additionally, it can assist with research and fact-checking, which can help reduce stress and anxiety associated with completing tasks that require a high level of accuracy and attention to detail. By providing accurate and reliable information, Chat GPT can help individuals feel more confident in their work and reduce the risk of errors or mistakes.
However, if individuals become too dependent on the model, they may struggle to develop their critical thinking and problem-solving skills, which can negatively impact their mental wellbeing over time. Additionally, relying solely on Chat GPT can lead to a lack of engagement and satisfaction in one's work, which can contribute to feelings of boredom or burnout. It's important to strike a balance between using Chat GPT as a tool and developing one's own skills and abilities. Individuals should use Chat GPT as a supplement to their own knowledge and expertise, rather than a replacement for it. By doing so, they can reap the benefits of the model while also maintaining a sense of agency and ownership over their work.
So that’s what ChatGPT thinks about itself, what do I think?
I think Chat GPT has the potential to be a powerful tool to transform our daily lives. For mental wellbeing I think AI models like this could be useful for basic signposting, providing resources and even strategies to individuals who are experiencing difficulties with their mental health. It is not a million miles away from the use of computerised CBT programmes such as Silvercloud in primary care mental health services in the NHS. The main difference is that the advice is given by an algorithm, not a professional. In fact, AI chat bots have even been shown to be reliable as a tool for assessing clients seeking mental health support, potentially opening up a role for this technology in mental health triage. Inevitably though, a huge part of mental health care relies on the therapeutic relationship between a client and a practitioner. Therefore, I think the uses in this area will be extremely limited.
But what about for our over-all wellbeing? AI models like ChatGPT have the potential to reduce occupational stress which can happen when the requirements of a job do not match the our own capabilities or resources. By providing ‘short cuts’ for time consuming, but menial tasks, ChatGPT can help to extend our time and resources, and potentially reduce our occupational stress. The negative impact of occupational stress on our mental health has been widely reported, with special focus being placed on ‘key worker’ occupations such as teaching and nursing. Therefore, implementation of ‘productivity hacks’ using AI models like ChatGPT to decrease our workload has the potential to improve workers’ and students’ wellbeing. However, I am acutely aware of the downsides to this technology. Firstly, no AI model is perfect. ChatGPT will make mistakes and its’ inability to think creatively or critically clearly limits the potential for what it can create. While it can write a semi-decent blog, it can’t write your whole PhD thesis for you, or any other piece of work which requires independent or critical thinking. Over reliance on technology like this will inevitably lead to poor outcomes and it is important that we are disciplined enough to put in the effort to create unique, independent and creative work.