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.

Comment on this post »

The Future of Blogging

May 25, 2023

What is the future of blogging in the Age of AI? Here is my dot connecting so far.

Predicting the future of blogging by Alison Garwood-Jones

Comment on this post »


May 20, 2023

Maya Angelou drawing - singing Calypso Music

Comment on this post »

Can AI Mark School Assignments?

May 15, 2023

The short answer is yes. I tried. First, it’s tempting to outsource marking given that most sessional instructors don’t get paid to grade assignments. Depending on class sizes, you can be marking for an entire week free of charge.

Will your students notice if they’re getting a gold star or a knitted brow from a robot? It depends on your teaching style. If you present as beige and technical in class, the AI’s feedback on their assignments will align with your general vibe. But suppose you like to regale students in class with personal anecdotes from the field and fresh news items and case studies that illustrate the learning objectives? In that case, you’ll have to figure out a way to punch up the AI’s assignment feedback so your students see you in the exchange — assuming that you care about being H:H (human to human). That niggly process of fixing paragraphs can be time-consuming.

Drawing of Swirls by Alison Garwood-JonesProcreate Illustration by Alison Garwood-Jones

Next, to ensure the AI understands how to mark each assignment so it offers the most useful feedback, you need to craft a prompt that clearly denotes what is being evaluated. That may take several rewrites. Then you need to drop in the text from each student’s submission behind your prompt without missing any paragraphs during that grab and paste from the school’s learning management system.

Highlighting and grabbing text from uploaded PDFs, especially ones that include images, can be hit and miss. You may find yourself scrolling and scrolling to make sure all of the student’s assignment has been captured as you toggle between two browser windows (the assignment submission window and ChatGPT screen). That too is time-consuming.

Alternatively, you could download each assignment to see if that makes the cut-and-paste more seamless (tip: make sure you have enough disk space on your computer). But that’s adding friction, not subtracting.  Either way, be prepared for eye strain and dizzy spells if you work on a laptop.

Oh … sometimes ChatGPT goes on sabbatical without notice and you have to wait for it to come back adding to the time you spend marking.

Conclusion: Reading student assignments and crafting the feedback myself turns out to be faster and easier and it feels more caring. Plus, I’m the kind of instructor who likes to give students my observations about their progress throughout the term. Just thinking about what it would take to feed the AI all of their course assignments so it could do the same high-level dot connecting sounds like a logistical headache and quite the opposite of AI’s promise of saving time through improved efficiency.

For now, using AI to grade assignments is not a slam dunk, but I’ll continue to monitor its potential and report back any changes.

Comment on this post »

Summer School

May 2, 2023

As a freelance writer and illustrator, it’s my job to stay on top of the latest tools to create, market and distribute my writing, illustrations, videos and audio content.

If this is relevant to your job too, join me in class this summer for Digital Communications Strategy & Social Media (also available in Micro courses) and/or Writing Digital Content at the University of Toronto SCS.

Hot topics will include:

• What’s next for marketers as we move out of the Age of Social Media and into the Age of AI?
• How to use AI as a personal assistant & creativity enhancer, even when it scares you.
• How to reach and win over your audience now that they can choose between chatbot answers and search engine results.

To learn more, go to


The School recommends registering by Friday, May 12.

From May 16-18: The website will be undergoing maintenance and will not be accessible for course registrations.

If you miss that time frame, not problem! Email me at and I’ll figure out a way to get you in through a window.



Comment on this post »

Kurt Vonnegut on AI

May 2, 2023

What would Kurt Vonnegut say about AI? by Alison Garwood-Jones

Comment on this post »

To Scrape or Not To Scrape

April 20, 2023

We stand on the shoulders of giants every time we unveil a breakthrough invention. That’s well established. From Newton to NASA, etc. etc.

But when you dig into this concept, sometimes you need to turn down the volume on the triumphant orchestral soundtrack.

Facebook and Twitter stood on the shoulders of legacy media in the 2010s. They stockpiled all the ad revenue which led to the crumbling of trust and revenue for fact-checked media.

When pushed, Facebook’s response to profit sharing was, and continues to be, “No More News” 

A new Washington Post investigation goes under the hood of generative AI’s LLMs and shows, once again, this latest tech advance relies heavily on The New York Times, The LA Times and The Guardian (all subscription businesses) for its firepower. Wikipedia is at the top of the Scaping List, but that’s a separate story. Canadians, the Toronto Star is number 98 on the list of Top 100 scraped sites.

There’s something deja-vooey about all of this. Will good working partnerships with tech continue to elude us? Heck, we haven’t even found a fair business model for content creators and social media companies, and we’re already moving out of that era.

I hope the coffee is extra strong in legislatures around the world. As citizens, let’s stay committed to trying to understand what’s at stake for everyone, even as we integrate these tools into our workflows and lives.

In the meantime, the danceathon between permission and forgiveness raves on.

Comment on this post »

The Future of Google Juice

April 4, 2023

Google Juice Drawing by Alison Garwood-Jones

The answer is: no one knows.


Comment on this post »

The Right Purse

April 4, 2023

I buy a new purse about once or twice a decade. Yesterday I bought two (TWO!) in the span of an hour. No more spending until 2033.

You see, I moved into my brick-and-beam condo without checking the closet space. A walk-in is for other people. I have a shoulder-in closet and a ton of stuff rammed under my bed.

I signed on the dotted line for my condo because I open the front door to the sight of two (TWO!) six-and-a-half-foot tall windows that offer a “big sky” view of Toronto’s west end and, at sunrise, the distant gleaming skyscrapers of Mississauga, which I’ve taken to calling Hoboken from my perch (snooty, I know).

In the past few weeks, I’ve been running to these windows every time I hear the oncoming honks of a trio of Canadian geese, back from wherever because it’s spring here in Toronto. As they fly past and head towards Lake Ontario, I get a very intimate view of their fat, fuzzy bellies, blinking eyes, and poo drops ( like B-17 bombing raids over Europe during WWII). The theatre through these windows never disappoints.

But let’s get back to the purses, which I have taken to displaying on my bookshelves because of the closet problem. The first two are a pair of beauties I purchased yesterday at Toronto’s annual Vintage Show at the historical Canadian Exhibition grounds. The colourful one is a hard shell with a snap clasp covered in a swirly silk scarf pattern that dates back to about 1962. I’m sure its previous owner paired it with white cat’s-eye sunglasses, a crinoline dress or pencil skirt with a matching sweater, and kitten heels.

My new purse from the Toronto Vintage Show

Yay baby!My new purse from the Toronto Vintage Show
Turn to the right.

The second is a black evening clutch with the perfect gold bow clasp. It was made in Montreal by Paramount bags.My new purse from the Toronto Vintage Show

I mean, look at it!

My God, its elegance is off the charts. And look! Inside there’s a gold satin change purse for those shiny pennies that the Canadian mint stopped making years ago. Back then, a few quarters went a long way. Beyond the change purse, there would have been a powder puff and a Kleenex square, and maybe a breath mint. I will fill this envelope with my iPhone, a credit card, the Kleenex square, and that universal tube of red lipstick that has been empowering us girls since forever.My new purse from the Toronto Vintage Show

What’s in your purse?

The third purse was purchased from the same show about 15 years ago. Note: As my hair gets threaded with more silver, I’ve kept my cougar accessories to a minimum. But this was a rare instance where I said, “Take my money!” Now hear me roar!My new purse from the Toronto Vintage Show

I had to bang this purse back into shape after I sat on it.

The swirly purse enjoyed date night last night. She sat on the bar top next to a glass of Barolo. As a final touch, I’m going to take her to my favourite cobbler and ask him to add feet to her flat base. I want her to rise above the messiness of life.

Comment on this post »

Cats and AI

March 29, 2023

Cats and AI
Will there be anything interesting left for us to do?

Comment on this post »

error: Content is protected !!