A lot has been said about the recent Pew Research report that found A Majority of Americans Have Heard of ChatGPT, But Few Have Tried It Themselves. Some seem to think it proves AI is catching on with younger adults, while others think it proves AI is dying out.

The truth is that it is kind of a mixed bag. The “majority” of Americans that have heard of ChatGPT is 58% (increasing to 67% for ages 18-29), which seems closer to a slight majority. That fares better than past trends like Block Chain if I am remembering correctly, but slightly less than trends like Second Life. But then again, Second Life made it into TV shows and movies, so of course it was probably more known back in the day. I even remember watching a CSI episode about Second Life.

Some have questioned why the research was only on ChatGPT and not AI in general. I would be interested in that research as well. But just like with virtual worlds and block chain, you don’t just pull up an AI app and do AI. You have to use it through a company, and ChatGPT seems to be the default tool now just like Second Life was for virtual worlds. Sure, Facebook, Google, and others are forcing AI on people, but if you want to know what people think about any given trend, you need to look at the tools where people actually choose to use said trend.

Some people have skipped ahead to the end of the research and proclaimed that 38% of younger adults (under 50) find ChatGPT extremely or very useful. But that is not 38% of all younger adults. Of the 58% that have heard of ChatGPT, less than 31% of those younger adults are using it, and of those that are using it, 38% find it “extremely” or “very useful.” I leave out “somewhat useful” because most people just don’t use things much that they find somewhat useful. Think of people that buy all kinds of kitchen tools that sit on a shelf barely touched – that is “somewhat” useful.

I realize I am kind of jumping across categories here because the Pew article is sharing incomplete data, but the math comes out to somewhere between 3 to 5 out of every 100 younger adults in the U.S. finds ChatGPT useful. Ouch. Resetting those numbers to just focus on those that have heard of ChatGPT, only about 6-7 out of every 100 younger adults that have heard of ChatGPT find it useful. Even just focusing on those that use ChatGPT, 38% is a rather low number of users that find it useful.

It would also be interesting to see what this same study would say about those under 18. The teens I know are kind of “meh” towards all AI, but generally see ChatGPT as comedy entertainment. People are saying we should listen to how the youth are using AI, and I do agree on that. But it is also interesting to see some leaders (at least in the U.S.) that one week declare that mobile devices are ruining attention spans, schools, society in general… but then the next week are saying “the youth of today love AI, we should listen to them!”

It’s the same old story with the “kids these days” – when they are doing something you don’t like, take it away and regulate it. When they are doing something you do like, then get out of their way and listen to them to them unquestionably! Might I suggest that maybe your approach to video games and screen time for kids should have similarities with your approach to AI for kids? Just where do you think they will be accessing AI tools anyway?

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