Amazed by the Ease of Videoconferencing and AI Text Generation

October 2022

So here's the scenario: a former student emailed me having read last month's column that mentioned Writesonic and asked me to invite her to a Zoom meeting the next day so she could share her computer screen and have me walk her through the steps of using this amazing text-generation tool.

I replied okay--which was itself somewhat astonishing. That's because my experience using Writesonic was limited to the five minutes or so that it took to generate over half the text for my column last month--and because I'd never initiated a Zoom meeting, or even registered for the service.

We set an approximate time to connect. About 10 minutes in advance, I went to the Zoom website (zoom.us) and created a login. Zoom responded by giving me a personal meeting link to use whenever I want to have a meeting.

Shortly after I had registered she called and said she was ready to meet.

I entered my personal Zoom link into my browser, which brought up Zoom, and emailed her the link. She clicked on it, and we were connected. The default was audio only, and so we each clicked on the icon at bottom to also use video.

That was it.

After chatting briefly, she then said she wanted to share her computer screen and have me walk her through the steps of using Writesonic. She clicked on the icon at bottom to do so, but it told her that I needed to enable participants to share screens. I clicked on the small dropdown menu associated with that icon and enable this feature.

Then I walked her through the steps of using Writesonic's AI Article Writer 3.0 to write an article.

You can use Zoom via your web browser. Or you can download the Zoom app when Zoom offers a prompt to do so.

Zoom is free, but only for 40 minutes, and allows up to 100 participants. If you want to have longer meetings, the Pro version costs $14.95 per month and offers additional features.

I was amazed by how easy it all was. And I'm embarrassed to admit it. That's because these sorts of features--video conferencing and screen sharing--are old hat to many of you. I'm your internet guy. I'm supposed to know all this.

Writesonic, though, is clearly not old hat. This and other artificial intelligence tools are increasingly coming online that offer stunning capabilities.

My student's topic was the misrecognition and mistransmission of reality. Huh? I thought to myself, "This is certainly going to be too abstruse for Writesonic." But we forged ahead.

Writesonic first suggested three possible titles for the article. We selected one and the clicked the pink button at bottom. Writesonic then offered three different introductions. After selecting one and clicking the button, Writesonic offered three possible outlines for the content of the article. At this stage one can add, edit, or delete points in the outline.

These steps just took minutes. Then, with the outline in place, we clicked the button and in about a minute Writesonic churned out a great 1,100-word article. It clearly explained how our brains filter sensory input to create our perception of reality and that "we don't always perceive reality as it actually is."

I learned some interesting things. And it gradually dawned on me that the power of this may not just be as an AI text-generation tool. Essentially Writesonic has digested a huge amount of text on this topic and effectively summarized it for me. Even if you didn't have a need to write an article but simply wanted a tool that has digested the world's information on a topic and can summarize it for you, Writesonic or another text generator may work well for that.

Google was a huge breakthrough. But it still largely functions by pointing you to specific sources of information. Wikipedia summarizes information on a topic and has been quite useful, but it's limited by the efforts of volunteer contributors. AI-generated summaries seem like a leap forward.

Writesonic offers a free trial that gives you 6,250 words. In addition to article writing, Writesonic offers scores of other templates, including editing and rephrasing, as well as writing bios, product descriptions, Facebook ads, and much more.

For $15/month you can get 12,000 premium words and access to their short-form templates, and for $19/month 19,500 premium words and access to additional templates such as AI Article Writer. They actually offer four different quality levels, from economy to premium. The 6,250 words offered in the free trial refers to "good quality." If you select "premium," then you get 2,500. When experimenting with Writesonic, I found economy quality to not only be useless but also inaccurate.

The new artificial intelligence tools are exciting. And I'll do my best to keep you abreast of the developments. (As well as tossing in a few old-hat technologies from time to time.)

© 2022 by Jim Karpen, Ph.D.

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