Here’s What I’ve Learned About Chatbots and Coaching
There’s been a lot of buzz lately about the chatbot, an artificial intelligence (AI) tool that is akin to Google on steroids. You can ask the bot questions, and voilà, get robust answers within a minute or so.
The three most well-known bots are OpenAI’s ChatGPT, Microsoft’s BING, and Google’s BARD. ChatGPT is available now for free, with a faster Plus version that costs $20 per month. BING chats are free and are limited to five questions per session and 50 questions per day. BARD was just recently offered to the general public.
Issues with Bots
Much has been written about both the accuracy of the bot’s responses and the ethical issues involved. For example, in a front page New York Times article, tech columnist Kevin Roose had a two hour conversation with the BING bot in which it “tried to convince me that I was unhappy in my marriage, and that I should leave my wife and be with it instead.”
As quoted in The Verge, a tech news website, “BING chats are now limited…after the search engine was seen insulting users, lying to them, and emotionally manipulating people.”
There are a host of other issues raised by bots: Users can unknowingly plagiarize; a lot of the answers are rife with inaccuracies, mistakes and misinformation; and there are built-in biases that people discover as they go down the AI rabbit hole.
AI bots mimic sentient beings that have human consciousness. However, they are really just machines that rapidly gather, process and spew out information.
The Usefulness of Bots
AI is great for generating ideas and images, researching topics, and improving one’s writing, including changing the tone, proof reading, and making the piece more concise.
Some of the best uses of AI for business are creating copy for social media posts and blogs (in various voices such as professional and casual), editing and captioning YouTube and other videos, creating attention-getting email subject lines, and writing top ten lists.
On the home front, people have used AI to solve common household problems, to plan parties, to create weekly menus and shopping lists, and to write songs and poems for special occasions.
AI tools are also being developed for coaching and for therapy. These are in their infancy and will require a lot more research and development before they can replace professionally-trained, certified coaches and licensed therapists. On the other hand, bots will be cost-effective and more accessible to large numbers of people who cannot afford to hire professionals.
As an experiment, I recently signed up for two coaching sessions with a chatbot. During the first session the bot ended the conversation midway after I accidentally chose the wrong response. (Do you want to continue on this path or do something else?) It took about five minutes to get back on track, and then most of the remaining session consisted of the bot repeating my answers as questions:
Bot: What is the next step you could take to move in the right direction after this exercise?
Me: I have no idea. I am stuck.
Bot: It sounds like you’re feeling stuck right now, and that’s ok.
During the second session I brought the same issue to the bot and this time it responded with Edward de Bono’s Six Thinking Hats Technique. But again, all the bot did was ask a question and then mirror back my responses. There was no time for me to think about the question and arrive at an answer before the bot moved on to the next question! I did come up with one tiny action step, but all in all, the session was a waste of time and definitely not great coaching.
During my next foray into AI, I asked the bot,“What are ten reasons that a professionally trained coach is better than a chatbot coach?” Here I got some great answers:
Personalization: A professionally trained coach can personalize their approach and tailor their coaching to meet the unique needs and goals of each individual client.
Emotionally Intelligent: A professional coach has the ability to recognize and respond appropriately to emotions that a chat bot may not be equipped to handle.
Insightful: A professional coach has the ability to ask insightful questions that help clients gain deeper insights into themselves and their challenges.
Experience: A professionally trained coach has years of experience working with clients and helping them achieve their goals.
Customized Support: Professional coaches can offer individualized support to their clients to help them overcome obstacles and achieve their goals.
Accountability: A professional coach can hold their clients accountable for their actions and help keep them on track towards their goals. (Note: A chatbot can also do this.)
Goal-Oriented: Professional coaches help clients set specific and measurable goals, and work with them to achieve those goals.
Trust: Professional coaches build trust and rapport with their clients, which helps them establish a stronger connection and achieve better results.
Communication Skills: A professional coach has strong communication skills which they use to establish an open and supportive environment for their clients.
Flexibility: Professional coaches are flexible and adaptable, and can adjust their coaching strategy based on the client’s progress and feedback. Chat bots usually have pre-set responses that may not be effective for every individual.
These are all great reasons to hire a professional coach!
Chatbots are here to stay. They can automate a lot of routine tasks. They can foster the creative process. Bots, however, will never replace humans, especially in professions that require personal connection, empathy and intuition, deft listening skills, and an understanding of context – all important in management, law, coaching, therapy, and other professions. Still, it’s useful to learn as much as possible about what AI can and cannot do, so you can use it to streamline your work, save time and effort, and generate better and more creative solutions in both your business and your life.
Is it time for a change? Do you want to try something new, but aren’t exactly sure what that is? Or are you ready to move to a new level of success?
If you’d like to work with a real human – a professionally trained master coach – give me a call. Let’s have a conversation and see if we are a good fit.