Practical AI for Everyday Life: Notes from my lecture.

I held a lecture recently about the practical AI use for Everyday Life,  the group as expected was a bit older; everyone was over 40 and there was even an 80-year-old.  That gentleman couldn’t wait to talk to his morning walking partner.

We gathered to explore Artificial Intelligence (AI)—a concept they’d all heard of but hadn’t fully experienced. This blog post builds on that class, aiming to demystify AI and ChatGPT for those curious about its practical applications. From enhancing writing and art to streamlining daily tasks, AI is proving to be a valuable ally in our day-to-day lives.

Here, we’ll explore how AI can make our routines not just easier, but also more creative and fulfilling. Whether you’re new to AI or looking to deepen your understanding, this journey is for anyone ready to discover the potential of AI to transform everyday tasks. I made some simple prompts for each section to illustrate what it can do.

Understanding Practical AI vs. Generative AI

In our journey through AI’s applications, it’s essential to distinguish between two primary types: practical AI and generative AI.  One we’ve been using for years, and the other we are discovering its benefits today.

Practical AI is the type we encounter daily without perhaps even realizing it. It’s the intelligence behind your map app calculating the fastest route home, your smartphone’s voice assistant understanding and responding to your queries, or your streaming service recommending a movie you might like. This form of AI makes decisions based on data and patterns it has learned from; it’s about optimizing, predicting, and automating tasks to make our lives more convenient.

Generative AI, on the other hand, is where things get creatively exciting. Imagine asking an AI to write a story, compose a piece of music, or generate a piece of art. Generative AI doesn’t just pull from existing data to make recommendations or decisions; it creates new content based on the vast array of information it has been trained on. It’s like an artist who has studied countless artworks and can now produce something unique and original. Whether it’s drafting an article, designing a graphic, or coming up with a new recipe, generative AI is about harnessing creativity.

The distinction lies in functionality: Practical AI simplifies and streamlines, making tasks easier or more efficient, while generative AI ventures into the realm of creation, producing new and original works. Both are transformative, each in its own way enriching our interaction with technology and the world around us.

Using AI as Your Assistant, Mentor, and Muse

The concept of an AI assistant is not just about having a digital helper—it’s about empowering your creativity and productivity. Think of it as having an ever-ready mentor and an endlessly resourceful muse at your side. Here’s how:

  • Prompt Crafting: Begin by mastering the art of the prompt. In the world of ChatGPT, a well-crafted prompt is the key to unlocking its full potential. Imagine extending an invitation to a knowledgeable friend to assist you with something—it starts with you asking the right questions.
  • Tailored Assistance: Whether you’re a student, a professional, or a curious mind, AI adapts to your needs. It can proofread your work, brainstorm ideas, or manage your calendar. It’s like having a personal assistant who’s adept in a multitude of skills.

Mentorship and Learning: Use AI to expand your knowledge. Ask it to explain complex concepts, guide you through learning a new language, or offer insights into a scientific phenomenon. AI stands by to support your intellectual growth, one question at a time.

Improving Your Writing with AI

AI has revolutionized the way we approach writing. No longer do you need to toil alone over your drafts or pay someone to do it for you—AI can offer assistance that makes your writing process smoother and your output more polished.

    • Spelling and Grammar Checks: Bid farewell to overlooked typos and grammatical snags. ChatGPT can scan your text and highlight corrections, much like a vigilant editor over your shoulder.
    • Enhancing Sentence Structure: Got a sentence that feels clunky? Feed it to ChatGPT, and it can rework it into a thing of clarity and flow, just as a seasoned writer might.
    • Idea Expansion: When you’re stuck with a concept that needs fleshing out, ChatGPT acts like a brainstorming partner, throwing in suggestions and perspectives to enrich your narrative.
    • Simplifying Complexities: If you’re grappling with explaining a difficult idea, ChatGPT can be your simplifier, translating it into layman’s terms without losing the essence.
    • Writing Practice: For those looking to sharpen their writing skills, ChatGPT can serve up creative prompts, encouraging you to practice and refine your craft in a fun and engaging way.
    • Vocabulary Enhancement: If you find your word choice repetitive, ask ChatGPT for synonyms and it will not only provide alternatives but also demonstrate their use, like a live thesaurus with contextual understanding.

AI in Health and Wellness

In today’s fast-paced world, maintaining a balanced lifestyle is more challenging and essential than ever. Artificial Intelligence (AI) is revolutionizing the health and wellness sector by offering personalized strategies that cater to individual needs, making it an indispensable tool for achieving and maintaining optimal health.

Fitness Planning with AI

AI as Your Fitness Companion

For those who love staying active, AI can serve as the ultimate fitness companion. It personalizes your exercise routine, adapting to your fitness level and preferences while considering factors like local terrain and weather conditions.

Sample Prompt: “Plan a week of hiking in Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom tailored to my intermediate fitness level. Be sure to include locations.”

Expected Outcome: AI devises a detailed week-long hiking plan. Each day is designed to match your fitness level, with routes varying in difficulty and scenic beauty, ensuring a rewarding and healthful outdoor adventure.

Mental Health Support through AI

AI for Mental Well-being

AI’s capabilities extend into mental health, offering support systems and strategies for managing stress and promoting mindfulness.

Sample Prompt for Stress Management: “Provide strategies to manage work-related stress.”

Expected Outcome: AI suggests a variety of techniques such as time management tips, mindfulness exercises, and resources for professional help, akin to having a digital therapist at your disposal.

Sample Prompt for Mindfulness Practices: “Recommend breathing exercises to help with focus and relaxation.”

Expected Outcome: AI outlines several breathing techniques, such as the 4-7-8 method, complete with instructions and benefits, offering a portable solution to enhance mental clarity and reduce stress.

Personalized Food Planning with AI

AI as Your Nutritionist

Transforming into a personal nutritionist, AI can suggest meal plans and healthy snacks tailored to specific dietary needs and preferences, making it easier to follow a nutritious diet.

Sample Prompt for Healthy Snacks: “Suggest healthy snack options for children with peanut allergies.”

Expected Outcome: AI compiles a list of safe, nutritious snack options free from peanuts, incorporating ingredients like oats, fruits, and seed butter, ensuring kids enjoy delicious yet allergy-friendly treats.

Sample Prompt for Meal Planning: “Create a 5-day meal plan with dairy-free, gluten-free recipes featuring sweet potatoes.”

Expected Outcome: The AI presents a comprehensive meal plan that includes a variety of creative, nutritious recipes centered around sweet potatoes. Each meal is designed to be both delicious and in line with dietary restrictions, complete with a shopping list to streamline meal preparation.

Leisure and Hobbies Enhanced by AI

AI doesn’t just look after our physical and mental health; it also enriches our leisure time by curating personalized experiences based on our interests.

Sample Prompt for Reading Recommendations: “Recommend books related to the history and culture of New England.”

Expected Outcome: AI curates a list of books that delve into New England’s rich history and cultural heritage, providing summaries and reasons why each might captivate your interest, effectively tailoring your reading list to your specific curiosity about the region.

Sample Prompt for Travel Planning: “Plan a 2-week culinary tour of Italy.”

Expected Outcome: The AI outlines an itinerary filled with culinary experiences across Italy, from pizza-making classes in Naples to wine tastings in Tuscany, each selected based on your gastronomic preferences and the local specialties of each region.

Personal Management Powered by AI

AI can take personal management to new levels of efficiency and customization, addressing daily planning, task management, and goal setting.

Daily Planning

Prompt: “Create a daily plan for a work-from-home parent, including dropping kids off at school, 6 hours of work, 1 hour of exercise, meals, and leisure time.”

Outcome: AI could produce a balanced daily schedule that allocates time effectively, ensuring productivity without sacrificing family time or personal care.

Task Management

Prompt: “Suggest an effective way to manage weekly tasks for someone who fatigues easily and needs rest, but wants to achieve their goals.”

Outcome: The AI might suggest breaking tasks into smaller, manageable chunks with rest intervals and using tools like task trackers or reminder apps to stay on course without becoming overwhelmed.

Setting Goals

Prompt for Short-term Goals: “Provide short-term goals for someone interested in becoming a master cheesemaker to ensure they start with relevant knowledge and confirm their long-term interest.”

Outcome: AI could list goals such as completing a beginner cheesemaking course, visiting local cheese farms for practical insights, or experimenting with basic recipes at home.

Prompt for Long-term Aspirations: “Create a long-term goal to help ensure profitability for selling cheddar and smoked cheddar cheese within 3 years.”

Outcome: This might include a step-by-step plan beginning with market research, product development, establishing supply chains, and then marketing strategies to build a customer base.

Career Development and AI

AI also serves as a catalyst for career growth by facilitating the learning of new skills and providing resources for professional development.

Prompt: “Recommend books, podcasts, or blogs that can help me transition to a job in the mental health field.”

Outcome: An AI would curate a list of the latest and most relevant resources, tailored to your current knowledge level and career aspirations.

Finance Management with AI

In the realm of personal finance, AI proves to be a savvy advisor.


Prompt: “Help create a detailed budget and estimate the cost for a one-month road trip across Canada in 2 years, including a savings plan.”

Outcome: AI can map out a comprehensive budget that includes travel expenses, accommodations, food, and activities, along with a savings plan that breaks down monthly savings goals.

Investment Tracking

Prompt: “Explain Bitcoin mining as if to a five-year-old.”

Outcome: You’d receive a simplified explanation, perhaps likening Bitcoin mining to a treasure hunt where your computer solves puzzles to find coins, designed to be understandable at any age.

Exploring the Boundaries: Ethical Considerations and Authorship in the Age of AI 

As we wrapped up our lecture in Vermont, some compelling questions arose, ones that often linger at the edge of AI discussions: the ethics of using AI in critical tasks like grant writing, the potential for AI to interact with darker corners of the internet, and the nuances of authorship in AI-generated content.

When it comes to grant writing for noble causes, the ethical considerations are multifaceted. AI can be a powerful tool for good, helping to articulate the mission and needs of nonprofits and initiatives. However, it’s essential to maintain transparency about AI’s role in such processes, ensuring that the human element, which is so critical in philanthropy, remains at the forefront.

The concern about AI accessing dark web information underscores the importance of boundaries and safeguards. As AI becomes more advanced, the responsibility to guide it ethically and protect it from learning or spreading harmful information is a task shared by developers, users, and regulatory bodies.

Personalizing books with AI brings up the fascinating question of authorship. If you use AI to create tailored versions of a book, who owns the result? Generally, the AI is considered a tool, much like a pen or a keyboard, and the human guiding it is the author. Yet, as AI’s role in the creative process grows, this may evolve. The notion of authorship could shift, reflecting the collaborative nature of human-AI creation, blending inspiration with algorithmic execution.

These discussions are vital as they shape how we integrate AI into our society. It’s clear that as we stand on the cusp of an AI-augmented future, we must navigate these waters with careful thought, balancing innovation with ethics, and ownership with collaboration.

What excites you most about AI’s potential?  What do you fear? Share your thoughts in the comments below and let’s discuss the future of AI together.”

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