Alison Garwood Jones

This is Your Brain on AI

May 29, 2023

This is Your Brain on Drugs Campaign Idea redrawn by Alison Garwood-JonesWhat are the incentives to think for ourselves now that we are starting to outsource thinking to machines?

Will the long-term effect of ChatGPT on our brains be similar to the impact of fast food on our bodies?

The more I use ChatGPT to help me write, the more I feel my brain getting flabby around the middle. I’m talking about when I perform a “gap analyses” where I challenge myself to compare bot outputs with my own writing and then integrate the AI suggestions into my final copy. This process has yet to make me feel grateful, deeply engaged or amazed.

This is not my definition of a partnership. Instead, I feel usurped and underworked. It’s the same feeling I get when I spend my entire morning scrolling on my phone instead of working to yank a piece of writing from my chest. Is there such a thing as muffin top for your brain?

This is Your Brain on AI - illustrations by Alison Garwood-Jones

Where I do feel excited, and where I start to crackle and dance in place like that fried egg (… sorry kids, don’t do drugs), is when I use AI in a creative project I’m directing to show me how conversations on a particular topic would have sounded in Shakespeare’s time, complete with swear words and exclamatory expressions. The options itemized in the output sound like dialogue for a new play. AI saved me hours of research at a library and that makes me feel grateful and empowered.

I made these two drawings after listening to a fascinating conversation between Mitch Joel and Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic on Joel’s podcast, Six Pixels of Separation (Ep. #881 – “AI, Automation and More Humanity”), Sunday, May 28, 2023. It was Tomas who questioned the effect of AI on our brain development and who made the comparison with fast food. He also said: learn and keep following the evolution of these tools (keep your enemies close) but “don’t downgrade yourself just because machines and AI will keep upgrading themselves.” I look forward to readings Tomas’s latest book, I, Human: AI, Automation and the Quest to Reclaim What Makes Us Unique (2023)

The fried egg sketch was inspired by the large-scale US anti-narcotics campaign by Partnership for a Drug-Free America launched in 1987.


2 responses to “This is Your Brain on AI”

  1. Mitch Joel says:

    Wow – so glad the conversation inspired you – THANK YOU :)

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