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Walking and chatting with ChatGPT

by Tom Johnson on Jan 21, 2024
categories: ai

I've begun a new favorite activity: walking and talking with ChatGPT. It might sound crazy, but it's really engaging. As I walk around for exercise, I usually listen to non-fiction audiobooks or podcasts. Particularly with non-fiction audiobooks, I listen to learn something. For example, today I was listening to The Little Book of Common Sense Investing by John C. Bogle, founder of Vanguard. After about 20 minutes of listening to the book, my mind tends to gravitate toward questions I have. When I find myself losing interest in listening instead want to pursue specific questions, I pull out the ChatGPT app on my phone, tap the headphone button to initiate the audio conversation, and start asking questions related to topics surfaced in the book.
Chatting with ChatGPT on my walk

(Note: This audio feature is only available in the paid version.)

ChatGPT listens to my question and then responds. Then I ask another question, and ChatGPT responds, etc. I’ll often do this for 20-30 minutes or so. My phone remains in my pocket the whole time — I’m not simply voice typing text into the chat. ChatGPT is pretty good at simulating conversation. However, once it begins responding, there’s no way to interrupt it without pulling out my phone and tapping on the ChatGPT screen. But that’s fine — the responses aren’t usually more than 1-2 minutes, and it’s good practice to listen anyway.

When ChatGPT finishes its response, I have about 10 seconds to ask another question to keep the conversation going. So as ChatGPT starts winding down its answer, I think of the next question.

For this particular topic — investing strategies — there’s a lot I don’t know, so most of my questions are pretty basic. But I really love this interactive nature of AI. It allows me to be a more active learner, to direct the conversation in ways I want to take it.

Note that ChatGPT sticks to general, Wikipedia-type answers only. For example, it might explain nominal price versus real price and ideas like inflationary taxation or economic contraction. In contrast, the audiobook follows a longer, more narrative structure. Compare the difference to watching a movie (e.g., listening to an audiobook) versus reading threads about the movie on Rotten Tomatoes (e.g., interactive with ChatGPT). One mode is long-form, the other short-form.

Anyway, this combination of listening first through Audible to prime my interest in a topic followed by interactive Q&A with ChatGPT about the topic suits me well. I grow bored of audiobooks where all I do is listen endlessly. It’s too passive. I want to take the topic into more personalized directions and pursue my curiosities.

My wife thinks I’m crazy for doing this, but until you’ve tried it, don’t dismiss it. Looking at a larger pattern with AI, I keep returning to this same idea: I’m using AI to learn.

About Tom Johnson

Tom Johnson

I'm an API technical writer based in the Seattle area. On this blog, I write about topics related to technical writing and communication — such as software documentation, API documentation, AI, information architecture, content strategy, writing processes, plain language, tech comm careers, and more. Check out my API documentation course if you're looking for more info about documenting APIs. Or see my posts on AI and AI course section for more on the latest in AI and tech comm.

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