AI-Assisted Learning

A woman and a robot reading a document TL;DR: I used chatGPT in some form of Socratic dialogue to aid in understanding a text I was reading. Transcript

Yes, AI is over-hyped and not actually (yet) capable of what many people claim it can do—or what people are already using it for. The best advice I've heard goes “Treat it like a younger version of yourself or an assistant. Let it do busy-work which you could also do yourself and don't trust it blindly.”

Today I was reading this text about “Hyperrealism” for fun and—with no formal background in philosophy—I was having real trouble understanding it. So I turned to chatGPT. I had previously asked chatGPT and Perplexity to explain Hyperrealism and give examples with limited success (especially since I couldn't really verify what they were coming up with).

Instead I wanted to work on the basis of the text I had trouble with. Here's the full transcript if you want to read it yourself.


I start by pasting the full section that contained the part that gave me trouble. I lay out what specifically I'm having trouble with and make an attempt at answering my own question.1 I then explicitly ask for feedback. After chatGPT's answer I again take great effort to put it into my own words and come up with examples. When I feel like I've finally grasped it I again quote the relevant part of the original text (to refresh chatGPT's memory) and give my full understanding. I then ask for a rating 1-5 and feedback. After chatGPT reiterates a point that I had already found suspicious earlier, I explain my different understanding and ask chatGPT “Do you not agree?”. I think I should've gone with “Why do you think differently?” instead to not prime the answer too much. After having worked through all my issues to my satisfaction I give a creative prompt “Can you give me 5 bullet pointed questions that could broaden my understanding?” They weren't all great, but that's why I asked for five. I gave them some thought and got some quick feedback, again asking for a 1-5 rating and some feedback.


I'd recommend using chatGPT to aid understanding texts that are slightly above your reading level. And here's what works for me:


[1] Basically rubber duck debugging.

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