Today’s technology has always been framed as a kind of mixed blessing for those with ADHD. On one hand, technologies like social media have been dismissed as mindless distractions that disrupt productivity for those already dealing with executive function challenges. On the other hand, certain technologies – e.g., certain productivity tools crafted with the ADHD brain in mind and virtual reality – are being offered as tools to help the neurodivergent mind.
The debate about which technologies are harmful or helpful for individuals with ADHD will no doubt continue for some time to come.
One new technology that has recently emerged as a potential assist to those with ADHD is ChatGPT from OpenAI.
What Is ChatGPT
ChatGPT is a natural language processing tool driven by artificial intelligence (AI) technology that allows you to have human-like conversations and much more with a chatbot. The language model can answer questions, and assist with a variety of tasks such as composing emails, essays, and even code creation.
Usage of ChatGPT is currently free to the public because the technology is still in its research and feedback-collection phase. The technology is generating lots of attention. Swiss bank UBS estimated that ChatGPT already had 100 million active users just two months after launch, making it the fastest growing app in history.
ChatGPT runs on a language model created by OpenAI called the Generative Pre-trained Transformer (GPT). Generative AI models of this type are trained on vast amounts of information from the internet that include websites, books, news articles and more. The language model was fine-tuned using supervised learning as well as reinforcement learning. Human AI trainers provided the model with conversations in which they played both parts, the user and the AI assistant.
ChatGPT was created with the purpose of holding a conversation with the end user. A search engine indexes web pages on the internet to help the user find the information they requested. ChatGPT does not have the ability to search the internet for information. It uses the information it learned from training data to generate a response. Also, currently the training data only goes up to 2021. This leaves room for error.
It is essentially like having a conversation with a knowledgeable digital assistant. There are limits to the knowledge, but the experience can be compelling which may account for the rapid uptake of the technology.
How Are Individuals with ADHD Using It?
It will be some time before any scientific studies are published about the impact of ChatGPT (or similar emerging technologies), and in particular its benefit or detriment to those with ADHD. But many individuals with ADHD aren’t waiting for the research to come in before trying out this technology. In the references below, you will find many examples of how ADHDers are already using ChatGPT at school and work. These include tasks such as:
- Job search
- Resume writing
- Interview preparation
- Responding to emails
- Setting up meeting agendas
- Writing reports
- Create scripts for difficult conversations
- Time estimation and task breakdown
- Synthesize important information from a long document into bullet points
- Pull out action items from an email into a task list
While ChatGPT is still very much in its infancy, it provides a glimpse of the future. Here are a few predictions:
- The training datasets will expand and training will happen in real time.
- Text chat will be replaced, or augmented, by voice.
- The user interface will be supplemented with human-like avatars with the social nuances we are used to.
- Prompt libraries will make it easier for users to find exactly the right requests to make their digital assistant most productive.
Will this technology be helpful or harmful? Like most technology, it has the potential for both. One thing we can probably count on is that it will change how we learn, create and work. Stay tuned.