Greetings! We are back with another edition of Tech on: AyeA pop-up newsletter that teaches you about Artificial Intelligence, how it works and how to use it.
Last week, I went through you How to use AI to prepare for the dreaded office meeting, Now let’s take all that hard-earned money and move on to something more fun: shopping.
The most time-consuming part of shopping for many people is the research process: sifting through review sites and picking out the item that’s right for you, whether it’s coffee equipment or a hotel room that’s both convenient and affordable.
I’ll cover what AI can do to help make informed purchasing decisions quickly and efficiently. For this exercise, I’ll focus on using chatbots, including Microsoft’s Bing, Google’s Bard, and OpenAI’s ChatGPT, to conduct product research. I’ll also explore how to use the ChatGPT plug-in for creating grocery lists and trip planning, another recent development.
Let’s say you prefer to brew your coffee in a French press, and you want to buy a grinder that doesn’t cost more than $200. The typical research process is to do a web search and read a bunch of reviews.
AI chatbots can streamline this process. Microsoft’s Bing and Google’s Bard, which are the default search engines, are currently best equipped to get up-to-date product recommendations.
As in all the time, correct signal Best results will be obtained. For this example, you would write something like: “Work as a shopping assistant. I am looking for a coffee bean grinder for french press that is well reviewed. It should not cost more than $200. In response, Bing and Bard will list examples of grinders that fit the criteria.
You can even ask chatbots tough questions, like which home appliances will last the longest. You can type in something like, “Work as a shopping assistant. I am looking for a refrigerator. Which brands have the highest reliability ratings and what are some of the well-reviewed refrigerators?”
The bots will tell you which devices have the highest reliability ratings from publications like Consumer Reports and The Times’ own Wirecutter.
Whenever you’re using a chatbot, it’s a good idea to check the results for accuracy. But searching the web to double-check the bots’ recommendations is much faster than searching manually from scratch.
Now let’s talk about the future. OpenAI is developing a plug-in platform, which is essentially a third-party app store that allows you to add capabilities to ChatGPT. Currently only customers paying $20 a month for ChatGPT Plus can use the plug-in, which includes web browsing and shopping.
To use the plug-in, visit ChatGPT if you’re a paying member Settings menu, click on “Beta Features” and turn on “Plugins”. Then, in the ChatGPT app or website, go to the GPT-4 tab and click on “Plugins”. Then click the down arrow and select Plugin Store. This is where you can search for apps. Let’s start with one for Instacart, the grocery delivery app.
Try typing a prompt, “I’m making pasta bolognese. What’s a good recipe and what are the ingredients?” The chatbot will list the ingredients that go into the dish and offer to generate a shopping list.
Another interesting way to use the plug-in is to shop around dietary restrictions. For example, “I’m making dinner for a peeve. Give me a suggestion and material. The bot will suggest a meal — in my case, Lemon Garlic Butter Shrimp — and list the ingredients.
Clicking on a shopping list will take you to Instacart, where you can automatically load all of the items into your cart and select a grocery store to purchase them.
If you don’t want to pay for ChatGPT Plus, you can still use the AI for grocery shopping. Try asking Bing for the recipe, then ask for a shopping list of ingredients needed. In a particularly neat trick, you can even ask it to organize your shopping list from the grocery store aisle.
Travel sites like Kayak and Expedia also have plug-ins that help with trip planning. For example, you can find a well-rated hotel within walking distance of tourist sites for up to $500 per night – a process that usually requires looking at reviews and maps.
Let’s look at the Expedia plug-in as a short-cut.
“I have been traveling to Florence, Italy since July. Find me well-reviewed hotels that are within walking distance of tourist attractions. My budget is $500 a night.” The bot responded to this prompt with a list of top-rated hotels on Expedia, priced at 9 and above, near tourist attractions such as the Central Market and the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore.
You can also use the Expedia plug-in to find flights. For example, “I’m trying to get on a flight from San Francisco to Milan, Italy on July 28th. What are my best options with shorter intervals?” ChatGPT will load Expedia’s results for the shortest flights. It returned three flights from KLM, Delta and United, all with a single layover in no more than two hours. (I tried similar prompts with Bard and Bing, which showed generic information and incorrect ticket prices – not helpful!)
What will happen next?
Next week, I’ll show you how to use AI to organize your life.