When you prompt ChatGPT to provide an answer to a burning question, write an essay, or to cast up a love poem extraordinaire, you’re briefing it.
In fact, we brief everyday without really thinking about it. Instructions to spouses and siblings, offspring and co-workers, service providers and other help. Even notes to oneself.
A great brief, however, always seems elusive to most — in business, and in busyness.
There’s good reason for this and it’s twofold.
Firstly, we assume (or hope) everyone thinks in the same way that we do.
When we communicate, we believe the receiving party brings to that interaction all of the knowledge, insight and experience that you have, and can intuit your worldview.
A kind of false consensus effect emerges, with very real world impacts in the dimensions of misinterpretation and alignment.
Secondly, implanting vision is a really difficult thing to do.
Vision or desired outcome is often fuzzy and dream-like. And no-one can see into our minds.
Humans also tend not to be that good at visualizing detail or being able to see the entire journey ahead; and then connect the dots. It’s a problem that makes humans pretty bad at predicting the future, consistently.
Communicating vision and getting people on the same page is a tricky process.
Imagine an architect, a contractor, a quantity surveyor, and a first time homebuyer flipping their first kitchen together — each bringing their experience, expectation, vision, and budget — to the party. Fun times — and the likely genesis of the camel designed as a horse quip.
Coming to clarity, together, requires effort. It requires checks and balances. It requires questions, protocols, explanations, and importantly specifics – being specific.
This process leans heavily on deep and quite logical thinking. Creativity buffers around the logic, but is impossible without these guardrails.
And so, it’s pretty much impossible to brief in anything, and well, without a thorough set of instructions.
Enter AI and augmented briefing
Communicating and getting the best out of ChatGPT, Bard, Bing or any AI requires that we leap over the twofold problem, and do something we’re a little bit lazy about: brief better.
But how do you really brief well?
We know bad in equals bad out. If you ask a terrible question, you’ll most likely get an unsatisfactory answer. The same goes for when you answer a question poorly.
Generally we’re not that imaginative in our line of questioning and response. But we must get better at it if we want to make the most of evolving Artificial Intelligence (AI) tech.
Amazingly, harnessing AI requires smarter humans, not the opposite; and soft skills like creativity and communications to keep up in the technological Red Queen Race.
We need to learn to ask better questions of AI, of each other, and ourselves; and we need to spend time ensuring the answers in the ecosystem are also better framed to avoid the bad in-bad out conundrum.
The point is that the human element is still so critical to, and I’d argue even dependent on, really catapulting AI potential. It’s also the determining factor of quality.
Sam Szuchan agrees here and shows how it can be done well by treating ChatGPT like a baby. He uses a great example, and asks “what are some museums I can visit in Madrid”. The answer is a laundry list. But when he asked ChatGPT to act as a travel guide to Madrid, the answer was leagues better and more authentic and helpful.
Examples of this are abundant as we grapple with the power of AI language . For example, The Atlantic’s editor, Nicholas Thompson asks ChatGPT to complete a 10-word sentence based on the prompt “the cow jumped over” using high, medium, and low temperature parameters. The answers are fascinating.
Still, ChatGPT is only the sum of the parts of all human thinking before and ahead of it. And the questions we ask are the sum of our knowledge, experience and creativity.
We essentially need to put more effort in to get the best out.
Charlie Warzel, again of The Atlantic, argues that talking to AI might be the most important skill of this century. In order to create, he says, one must know how to guide the machines to the desired outcome which takes expertise, creativity, and a whole lot of guesswork.
Enjoy the snowball effect
So, how do we ask and answer better? How do we brief, well?
- Do research and upfront thinking
- Ask many questions, experiment based on answers (A/B testing)
- Ask both broadly and specifically, then be very specific
- Listen to and review the answers, listen more and for meaning
- Reframe and review questions and answers
- Get feedback and iterate on it
Questions do not have to be complex but they have to be particular, clear, thoughtful and precise. A lot of tech is built on this type of logic — if X then Y, then Z, in endless decision trees, or generative probabilities – and ChatGPT-Bard-Bing are no different.
AI, and AI language models empowered by big data, is the latest coating of powder on our technological snowball. It will change everything. So of course we’re scared and, naturally, there’re problems.
But looking into the marketing universe, and more specifically the under-explored world of briefing, ideas, creativity and vision, this is such a fascinating time.
Briefing can be augmented by AI tools and a global knowledge bank at our fingertips.
It can help us leap toward deeper, critical and more analytical thinking, built on a powerful call-and-response ecology.
It can help join dots quicker so we can apply human intuition more rapidly with more information available at speed and scale.
Grunt work deferred and done by the machines, means we can come back to pondering more detailed and nuanced questions; and contribute to crowd-sourced answers.
We can also do something else we don’t do so well — take feedback and iterate more quickly on answers, to drive innovation based on feedback loops, and take learnings and good ideas back into the system.
Briefmapp’s goal is to build software that can do this using the power of AI, humanity, and ideas. Because we need great ideas more than ever — and AI can help with that.
We’re living in one of the most exciting eras of human existence. And we get to shape it using our own minds and interconnectedness. Let’s do it.