Practice dummies and AI tools (1)

Shan Shen
4 min readMay 7


Cover image created with Midjourney

Lately, I’ve been trying to make sense of the hype around AI tools. The hype emerged amidst other events in the tech world, such as the massive tech layoffs and economic concerns. As a result, my excitement was mixed with other emotions like panic, skepticism, and wonder.

Shortly after ChatGPT took the social media world by storm, many AI tools emerged and became publicly available. Driven by curiosity, I started experimenting with AI tools, such as:

  • Notion AI: I use it to organize my notes, synthesize readings, and rephrase my writing to keep track of my daily train of thought.
  • ChatGPT: I use it when I need a quick and effective answer without being consumed by Google ads and pages of search results.
  • Canva’s AI features, revealed in Canva Create, are intriguing enough to keep me printing more mugs to capture my puppy turning one.
  • Midjourney: Its prompt-based image generation is so inspiring that I had to invite the bot to my server to continue experimenting.

It’s a packed journey to dip my toes into the adoption of concurrent AI tools.

In addition to practical experience, John Maeda’s book How to Speak Machine: Computational Thinking for the Rest of Us provided me with a balanced perspective on evaluating AI tools. Rather than viewing them solely through the lens of sentience, which can blend objectivity and emotion, Maeda emphasizes their powerful capacity for swift and rapid automation. This can result in significant alterations to our lived reality on both micro and macro scales.

One useful application of Notion AI is to synthesize and consume lengthy content at varying levels of detail. This allows us to extract key takeaways from a ten-thousand-word piece of writing and condense them into a concise paragraph, while still having the option to expand on them later if desired.

Here's an example: I recently listened to a 1 hour and 20 minute tech trend talk from Thomas Mueller, which took me several evenings to finish due to other obligations. Unfortunately, by the time I completed the talk, I had forgotten where his thesis began. To solve this problem, I downloaded a transcript of the talk and pasted it into a Google doc, which ended up being 36 pages long. To make it easier to access, I converted the doc into plain text format and uploaded it to Notion.

Transcript of Thomas Mueller’s talk

I pasted the plain text into Notion and used AI to "Summarize". The resulting summary is decent as a recap:

Accenture’s Thomas Mueller discusses five essential trends for the future of business, including the rise of GPT and neural creativity, the impact of artificial intelligence on creativity, the potential of digital wallets and tokenization, and the importance of transparency and control over personal data. He emphasizes the need for designers to understand and master these new tools, while also paying attention to potential biases and the human impact of technological change.

The summary lacks an explanation of what a “trend” actually implies, beyond a collection of tech buzzwords. To clarify this concept, I attempted to “Simplify language”:

In these times, there are many difficult issues in the world that can be summarized as instability. These issues are about control, shifts in power, and how these affect everyone. The next few years will be interesting as people navigate these changes. Christine Bound welcomes Thomas Mueller, Chief Design Officer for Accenture song Europe, to discuss the Accenture life Trends report. This report is about humanity, business, and technology signals that Accenture song observed around the world. The report explains how people are responding to the current state of things. People are fighting against injustice, looking for alternatives, focusing on what they can control, and powering down. These are all ways people are adapting to the current state of things.

This updated summary presents trends in concrete terms, depicting the current state of societal and economic conditions and how people are reacting to them. The “fight or flight” theme is prominent, and I extended the final sentence using “make longer.”

The trends for 2023 are Fight, Flight, Focus, and Freeze. People are raising their voices against injustice (Fight). They are looking for an alternative option (Flight). They are focusing on the things they can control (Focus). And, finally, they are powering down to economy mode (Freeze).

It is quite remarkable to note that people are raising their voices against injustice in different parts of the world. They are speaking out against social and economic inequalities, discrimination, and all forms of injustice. People are looking for an alternative option to cope with the challenges of living in a world that is unstable and unpredictable. They are moving to different places, seeking refuge, and looking for a better life.

People are also focusing on the things they can control. In a world that is unstable and unpredictable, people are trying to find some stability by focusing on the things that they can control. This includes their finances, their health, and their relationships. Finally, people are powering down to economy mode. They are cutting back on non-essentials, reducing their sphere of influence, and focusing on the things that matter most.

This summary has become an enjoyable read. It’s relatable, with dimensions for interpretation. It prioritizes certain choices over others, such as essentialism versus massive consumption.

So far, we have only scratched the surface of using AI to advance our understanding. By peeling away layers of raw information through remixing words, it is enriching to explore all three versions. In the next post of this AI series, I will write about my experiment with ChatGPT. Stay tuned.



Shan Shen

Principal product designer at Custom Ink. I lead digital experiences in tech to empower communities and lifelong relationships.