In this episode, Tina Persson and Joel Baker explore the burning questions surrounding the integration of AI tools like ChatGPT into our lives.
Are you feeling left behind, questioning if your traditional methods are outdated in this era of AI tools? Do you grapple with ethical concerns when utilizing ChatGPT for specific tasks, feeling a sense of cheating? Or do you proudly embrace ChatGPT as your go-to solution for all your needs? Tina Persson and Joel Baker explore the importance of striking a balance between these approaches and bring together their insightful perspectives on these thought-provoking topics.
Joel Baker is an English coach from World English Coaches. His personal journey of learning Spanish ignited a passion within him to assist others in achieving their goal of fluent English communication. Joel specializes in coaching leaders and executives and through his coaching, he has successfully guided and supported over 500 individuals in achieving their goal of fluent English communication.
In this episode, Tina and Joel discuss how you can make use of ChatGPT for your needs but with certain limitations. They also dive into the do’s and don'ts of incorporating ChatGPT into your application journey, emphasizing the importance of maintaining a human touch throughout the process. Last but not least, they emphasize the significance of staying up-to-date with the latest trends, while also cautioning against excessive reliance on AI tools that may hinder your personal growth.
Get ready to ignite your curiosity and delve into an exciting episode that explores the burning questions surrounding the integration of AI tools like ChatGPT into our lives. Stay tuned!
Tina Persson: Hi and welcome to PhD Career Stories with Tina Pearson. Today we have a guest, it's Joel Baker and he's an English coach from World English Coaches and he offers coaching for leaders and executives looking to improve their fluency in English. Until today, he has helped and coached over 500 individuals globally. So welcome, Joel.
Joel Baker: It's great to be here.
Tina: Great to have you on board here. And we have an exciting topic to talk about that might impact your future business, or at least is going to impact many coaches globally. And that is perspectives on chatGPT, artificial intelligence and coaching. And in your case, the English language as an English coach. So who could have better perspectives on that topic than you Joel. So my first question to you is that if you now think about chatGPT, artificial intelligence, how do you think that will impact your job as a coach in the future in the English language, being an English coach?
Joel: It's a great question. Yeah, and I've thought about that a little bit. You know, I think that in general, AI and especially chatGPT, is going to change the workplace. I think unfortunately, I think it probably is going to take away a lot of jobs. Maybe not right now, but, you know, over time. But we've seen from the past that humans adapt. And when we lose one job, you know, another one comes up. So but as far as it will affect me specifically, I think right now, not so much. What I do is I help people with their speaking. And at the moment, chatGPT is not really helping people speak. It's text based, right? But, you know, it's developing very quickly. And who knows, maybe in a year, a couple of years, maybe it will be able to have, you know, a conversation with people and they can maybe try to use that to practice their English and get feedback. And it could possibly replace me at some point. I don't know. But, I think at the moment people feel more comfortable working with the person, you know. Just think about when you call customer service and you get the answering machine or you get a robot, you know, nobody likes that. Nobody likes to communicate with a robot. So but, you know, they do have the technology to improve that communication. So it's always a possibility, I think. But as far as what we have right now that I'm aware of, I think that, um, so as I said, I primarily help people with their speaking, but I also help people with their writing in some cases. And that is an immediate impact that I could see affecting me is, maybe before some professionals asked my help for writing emails, for example, or things like that, but now they can just ask chatGPT to do it for them. So in chatGPT is not really going to teach them how to write, but it can do it for them. So in that sense, it's kind of like a crutch. Um, so they're not going to be improving their skills, but they will not, they will no longer have the need for that skill, if that makes sense.
Tina: Yeah, it makes sense. And that's interesting because you touched on something, you said when you call a support and that is a robot machine, you know, they want to direct me in the right direction. It's like, you know, tell me what you need. And then I start off and then they connect me wrongly because the robot machine doesn't understand my dialog, because I'm from the south part of Sweden and this robot machine is trained for Stockholm Swedish.
And I just feel more and more frustrated because this machine doesn't connect to me correctly. I have absolutely nothing I can do, so I can see that. Then if I'm going to be coached by an AI and I start to get frustrated, how will that work? I will just be even more irritated, most likely. Well, there is a risk that I could be that. Yeah, but coming to that with that you get help with writing if you just stay, I know you help people writing. Could it be so that you as a coach can focus on other things so you don't have to help them with the basic English? Is that an opportunity for you?
Joel: Yeah. Yeah. So one way that I can utilize chatGPT, for example, if I get a client to, they need a lot of help with their writing and they need help with speaking and other issues. Yeah, I could potentially use chatGPT to help them in certain areas like with their writing. And that would save time and that would allow us to focus more on things that Chad GP cannot help with. So it can make things more efficient as far as time goes, I think that there's some potential there.
Tina: I have dyslexia, so it's sort of a security as well. I can have someone very quickly just polishing my English sword. But it doesn't mean that the English that is polished has the right message, because maybe I don't understand. I'm not good enough in English. So the English that's written by me, I can't really understand the (unclear). Can you see that as a risk when it comes to depending on the level they have, they write something in their own language, get it translated to English, and then polish the English. And then in the end they actually don't know what they have written. Can you see such a risk in using chatGPT?
Joel: Yeah, I think you see that same risk using Google Translate. Um, you know, there are just so many words. I learned Spanish as a second language, for example, and just translated from English to Spanish or vice versa. You have to be careful because there are a lot of words that have a general meaning. But in different situations the meaning is completely different and my initial thought is that chatGPT will probably do a better job than Google Translate has done at deciphering what the context is so they can use the right translation. But I think that you're always going to have some issues with that. But I think that over time it will get better and better. But as of right now, I think that is a problem, potentially .
Tina: But I like to go back to you looking at what chatGPT and AI (means for) you as a coach. What could be positive for you and your clients when you work with your clients. And before we go to resumes and CVs and so on, what could be positive for you as a coach to help your clients?
Joel: So like I was saying before, I think that one of the major benefits of it is that we can use our time more efficiently. So for example, sometimes I have clients ask me questions, for example, like what word can we use to describe X, Y and Z? And that's the kind of thing that you could ask chatGPT, and he would probably know as well as I do, maybe even better because, you know, he can search the whole Internet now. So I think that there's good potential to be more efficient. And, you know, I'm just a human. I'm not a robot. So I don't know everything. And that is the advantage. So the advantage I have is that I'm a human.
So I have that emotional intelligence, that common sense that AI doesn't really have at the moment. But AI has more total information than I have. So for example, if I don't know something I can even use, use this tool myself when something comes up and I need to help somebody understand something or give them a word for something that maybe slipped my mind or or whatever. And as far as drawbacks go, I think that I don't know if you remember if this was the case for you in Sweden, but at least for me, back when I was in high school, in college, I used to have at least a handful of phone numbers memorized. You know, but nowadays you don't have to memorize a phone number anymore. You just have it saved, you know, on your phone. And the same thing with a calculator. You don't really have to do math in your head anymore on paper. Just pull out your smartphone, use the calculator, and it's done. So I think that that's the problem is that as technology gets better and better, and especially with AI and it's going to be increased exponentially now, we depend less and less on our own capabilities, our own brains. So as we use our brains less and less, it's like a muscle. So unfortunately, in my opinion, we're going to get dumber and dumber, yeah, that's what I think.
Tina: I took my iPhone here because now you said, what? What phone numbers do I remember? It's like I remember my parents number. I even remember my mother's sister's number. And then I start to wonder, and then I can still remember some old friends from, you know, 30, 40 years ago, but that's it. And it is also going so much that some names I don't remember because I can just go to Facebook and find them or something and that is a little bit scary actually. I noticed that with myself. I'm sort of not trying to remember. So yeah, yeah, I think yeah, that can absolutely be something in it, you know. We will go to something here because this is something I have a lot from my clients and I try to introduce myself as a career coach. It is about writing motivational letters and résumé and how to use that. Maybe use chatGPT as a support tool. But it's really tricky because I played around a lot with myself and I learned that I need to write certain prompts and I need to be careful a little bit. But I do believe there is a potential, particularly for people, that don't 100% understand the job so chatGPT can help you to understand the job. But I really would like to have your perspective on this. So could we start with a motivational letter, for example, what ideas and perspectives you have on that.
Joel: So from my experience and also talking with other people that have used chatGPT a lot, it has proven to be very good for getting ideas and for, you know, making a letter longer, for example. So let's say you want to write a motivational letter, so probably the best way to do that would be to have chatGPT do that for you and then to go through there and see what you like, see what you don't like, make some changes. And I think it can save you a lot of time, but I think you still need that human touch, especially for something that you want to motivate others. From my experience, a lot of the text that chatGPT produces, it's very good. Like as far as the language, like it's good English. It's ordered well, has a good structure and that kind of thing. But I haven't found it to be motivational or inspiring or really creative. It's kind of like general creativity. Like, yeah, it'll come up with some ideas that I didn't think about, but it's not going to come up with, like, an amazing idea that you just love, you know, that's from my experience.
But I'm sure that other people have used it and found some really interesting things. I would imagine.
Tina: I don't know. I have used it and, and I agree with you, it's hard to find maybe the creativity coming out and here you come, you, you are an expert in the English language. And I think about Shakespeare. Could chatGPT create such a text like Shakespeare?
Joel: I've heard people talk about how they use it to write poetry. They can write poetry now. And the poetry is not bad. People say it, it's, it's pretty good. I mean it's not. Yeah. I mean, it may not inspire you so much necessarily or something like that, but it's probably better than the average American could write. And the advantage to it is that chatGPT does it in just seconds or minutes, you know, so a person may have to take all day long thinking about things or waiting for inspiration to strike, whereas chatGPT can just pump it out in seconds. And as far as imitating Shakespeare or other writers, I think that is something it can do. Um, for example, um, I don't know, I haven't tried it with Shakespeare, but I know that people have tried, like writing speeches in the style of, say, Donald Trump, for example, and so what it'll do is that like, I guess it searches and has a database of all the different speeches or whatever that Trump has given.
And it can just kind of mimic and reproduce that same type of speech. And it sounds just like him.
Tina: So it sounds like it's like him. Because I played around with chatGPT and I told it to write a rude motivation letter, and it was rude and I asked could you change it? I changed my mind. Could you make it more optimistic? And chatGPT changed it so it became different in tone.
But still I noticed that if I use chatGPT, it's my words but chatGPT mixes in other words that I normally wouldn't use. And so far I have checked them. But it is, as you say, is this a word that I should use in this situation here, or is it something that I can learn from? So I, having English as my second language, I can actually learn. I could use this so I can increase my vocabulary. That's maybe another way of learning English. From your point, you are an English teacher, an English coach. Can I learn from chatGPT?
Joel: So even before AI, just reading an article in English, you're going to learn more vocabulary. You're going to expose yourself to better ways of writing and speaking so chatGPT can kind of take that and kind of to a higher level and an interactive level. So it would be, you know, the same idea, but you're going to be getting a little bit of interaction from AI and you're going to see instead of just this one word, you can see a couple of different alternatives.
Yeah. So yeah, I think it can be used for that for sure.
Tina: I'm coming to another thing that I know when I say, it's okay to use chatGPT when it comes to writing your motivational letter. There are strategies now on the market on how to extract, let's say, a job ad and let chatGPT explain the job ad for you. You can then tell chatGPT to extract the bullet points that you can actually highlight in your resume. But from your perspective, please elaborate around it. I'm coaching a lot of high performing professionals. They are PhDs and post-docs and they say, yeah, but Tina, this is cheating. And what would you say?
Joel: That's a tough one. Well, technically, I don't think that we have any rules yet, and, you know, in our society saying that you cannot use it for that. So I don't know if it's technically cheating, but, um, it kind of goes back to what we were talking about a few minutes ago. Um, I think that if somebody is relying on chatGPT to do that work for them, I think that that their mental capacity is going to go down a little bit over time, whereas somebody who does the work themselves are going to be sharper, I think, and they're going to really know what the position is because they actually took the time to read it themselves and to extract that information and reword that information themselves. So I think on a small scale at least, that those people who do the work will be in a better place. But the problem is, if you want to get a job, it's not just the first one you apply to. It's a kind of a numbers game. So if, let's say one person, they do all the work themselves and so they only have time to apply to ten different jobs, for example. But somebody else can apply to 100 jobs because they're using chatGPT. So they obviously have a clear advantage for getting that job. So we have an expression: if you can't beat them, join them. So that could apply to this as well. So on a practical level, I would probably think that it makes more sense to use all the tools at your disposal to get the job initially. But try not to rely on AI too much just for your own sake and your own development.
Tina: I'm happy you say so, because when I say cheating, well, if you never learn what the job field is you want to enter, It's not cheating, but you're going to cheat yourself. But it's a numbers game. I say exactly that. So if you can speed up the number of applications, use it, you know, because it is a number game. In the end you need a certain amount of applications to nail a job. So I think that, you know, I completely agree with you, but if you start to rely on it, I'm going to use chatGPT, it doesn't matter, I don't know what the job is. That's going to dig a very deep hole, because then you come to the interview and you really can't answer the questions because in the end you write an application. So you are prepared for the interviews. And I think there can be the pitfall, that you come to the interview and you realize you have no clue about the job.
Joel: Yeah, yeah, exactly. Because you don't have to remember what the job is or what the description said or anything.
Tina: When I worked as a recruiter, I learned very quickly, I better give a ring and I ask, why did you apply? And sometimes I said, which one? Which of them? So they had no clue about the job. It's sort of the same thing here, use chatGPT but be smart. So are you using chatGPT by yourself?
Joel: Yeah, you know, I, I use it a little bit just to kind of experiment and play around with it and be familiar with it. But at the moment, I'm not really using it for my business. I tried a few things that I thought I could maybe use for my business, but I wasn't all that impressed, at least with the prompts that I gave it. But it's something that I'm probably going to try again later.
Tina: Going back to these people that think they are cheating by using chatGPT. So what advice would you give to clients that I'm coaching and you are a bit hesitant here to use chatGPT, I feel it is cheating and I'm afraid the company will understand I use chatGPT. What advice would you give?
Joel: Well that is an issue because you know, on different platforms, I think Google and probably LinkedIn and other other companies, they have a way to detect if something was produced by AI or not. So that is a danger. So, they also have apps that will kind of change the AI, supposedly it doesn't, it doesn't trigger that AI alarm or alerts. It will make it look like it's written by a human. I don't know how true that is, but that's what they say. Because if you have AI modifying AI, I don't really see why it wouldn't still look like AI, but they have those products out there. And so as far as advice, in my opinion, I think that Pandora's box is open, you know, AI is here and it's here to stay. So I don't think there's really any way to stop it. So unfortunately for people who maybe are more old school or they are not really keen on the latest technology, I think that this is just my opinion, but I think that a lot of people will kind of be left behind if they don't find a way to utilize AI. I think there's still some time. I don't think it's, you know, this year, but I think in the next few years I think that people who don't use it well, we'll start to see the disadvantages of that. Um, yeah, a more extreme example. I don't know if you're familiar with Neuralink. So that's just kind of taking this to the extremes. And so, so Neuralink is basically putting AI directly in your brain. You're connecting your brain to AI and the internet. So when we get to that point, imagine that you're a lawyer or a doctor or some professional and you don't have neuralink, but your colleagues or your competition does. And so when there's a project to do or a question to answer, they're going to have access to all the information and access to AI instantly, basically. So you're going to be at a big disadvantage because you're not going to have the same information or the same mental capacity that they will have. And so you'll be at a disadvantage in the market and in the workplace. So I think that you can see a similar thing now while AI is still not in our brains yet, literally, um, you know, if somebody is using AI to do a project, they can get that project done much faster. And they probably will come up with some ideas that someone with that AI would not come up with. So people who don't take advantage of it, I think will be at a disadvantage. I think the vast majority of people are going to start using it sooner or later. So if you try to like, you know, push back against that for ethical reasons because you don't want to cheat, I think it's going to probably hurt your career at some point. And if everybody's doing it, I mean, with moral things, like if everybody's killing other people, that doesn't mean it's correct. Right? But as far as using it, using a free tool that everybody has access to, I don't think that that in and of itself has a moral problem compared to like, you know, stealing or killing or those other things. So the fact that everybody's doing it in a sense, in this case, I think, could give justification to doing it, even though it doesn't feel quite right in some cases.
Tina: No, it's a feeling we have at the moment. The question is how we will feel in two, three years. The feeling may be gone. You know, it's a little like this feeling I had, I recall when the Internet came and I still remember the first Internet with the cube basically, It was the next Macintosh. And I went in there and I went to the web, and oh I'm cheating, I'm looking for information. And I used that for my PhD. So I sort of have the same feeling that I was looking up information in a way that I shouldn't do because I should go to the library and read a book.
It's very interesting. And sharing with you here is also that I talked with, because we are both coaches and I think our world in the future will change a bit accordingly. I contacted a friend of mine. She's a coach in a company in Stockholm that is expanding enormously. And already they are working on integrating AI in the coaching business. So the question is what I am going to do, but they say maybe the first question you ask as a coach, a robot machine can take over, say, sort of I save time with my coaching as I can focus on what is really the problem, sort of. Very often I can sit the first session trying to figure out what is really about, and putting that on AI and I then later on get access to that dialog can help me as a coach quicker and, and I can sort of, now I'm working as a coach on my own, so it's not a topic for me, but she has eight clients, so it would be beneficial for her to know what challenges they actually have so she can learn quicker and organize the clients in a different way. So they are implementing it and you know, it is only since November, so that's only four or five months and it's already now into the loop on how to connect it to the coach business. And that sort of scares me a bit. What will it look like in three years?
Joel: Yeah, that just reminded me of something that I think is similar. So when you go to the doctor, you don't immediately see the doctor. You first see the nurse, so she checks your blood pressure, takes your temperature, weighs you, etc. So I could see a similar thing like what you're saying with coaching, where you have AI doing those initial questions, getting that initial information and then the doctor or the coach comes in and goes deeper and gives an evaluation, that makes sense.
Tina: Okay, we're coming to the end of the podcast here. So I leave it to you here, what do you take with you from the podcast here today? What have you learned?
Joel: I think it was really interesting hearing that they're already developing AI for coaching. I wasn't aware of that, you know, it's just moving so fast. It's crazy. So I think that, as you were saying, that it worries you a little bit. And I think now that I'm thinking about it, maybe it should worry me a little bit, too, because I can see something similar happening, you know, with learning English too, you know, having an AI robot or, or something like that, helping people with their basic issues. And so maybe they feel like that's good enough. I don't know, it's definitely interesting.
Tina: We don't know where the future goes. So what advice would you give to the people that are listening to our podcast here?
Joel: I think that we need to have a balance, in my opinion. I think that we should always, we should take advantage and utilize modern technology. But at the same time, I think we should not rely on it too much. Like I was saying before, I think that the more we rely on technology, the less we're going to use our brains. So we need to keep that into consideration. But at the same time, if we don't use technology to our advantage, we're going to have a problem because everybody else is going to be using it. So it's not really practical, you know, living in 2023 and beyond, to do that. It would be like, you know, there were some people in the past who did not want to get a smartphone like, No, I don't want a smartphone, I don't need it. I'm just going to stick to my normal flip phone. I'm good with that. But now everybody has a smartphone. You know, you can't really live without a smartphone anymore. I mean, you can, but you're going to miss out on a lot. But so in my opinion, I think smartphones are great. You can be very productive with them. You can get a lot of things done with them that you cannot without a smartphone. However, um, I draw the line personally, you know, as far as how much time I spend using my smartphone. So, you know I really don't like it when, when people use their phone for 8 hours a day, you know, if they're using it for work, maybe that's okay. But a lot of people are kind of addicted to their smartphone. They use it constantly. And I think that's not really good for society, you know, because instead of talking to people face to face, looking people in the eye, you know, we're talking like this. We're kind of listening, half listening, but we're not really giving people our full attention. And that's where technology in my opinion, becomes negative, when it affects our relationships like that. So I think that we need to be careful with AI in the same way. We don't want to use AI to replace too many things. You know, we need to still have that human touch in our lives, not only our personal life, our professional lives as well.
Tina: Yeah, thank you. I think it's very, very nice and lovely words what you're saying there, because you know, without a smartphone here in Sweden, we can't park your car. So my father doesn't have a smartphone. He can drive, but he can't park the car because he can't pay the parking tickets. So we are living in a technology driven world. But don't forget, it is people that still drive innovation. With those words, I would like to say thank you, Joel, for a very nice chat with you here today. It was absolutely a pleasure talking with you around this exciting and expanding topic. To all of our listeners, I will say thank you for listening, never forget that PhD Career Stories is here for you, and you can learn more about us on our webpage, phdcareerstories.com. And you also find us on Facebook and Instagram and Twitter, and never hesitate to reach out if you know anyone that you want to have on this show. So with that said, I say thank you very much and have an absolutely lovely day. Take care.