I tried using AI. It scared me.

Tom Scott
13 Feb 202315:49

TLDRThe speaker reflects on the personal impact of AI, triggered by a minor email issue that led to a realization about the rapid advancement of technology. Initially skeptical about AI's coding capabilities, the speaker's experience with ChatGPT's ability to write code and adapt to errors reveals the potential of AI to transform familiar workflows and industries, invoking a sense of unease about the future and the pace of change.


  • 🌐 The speaker reflects on the rapid changes brought about by the internet and how it has transformed various industries.
  • 📈 The Sigmoid curve of technology adoption is highlighted, showing a slow start, rapid growth, and eventual stabilization.
  • 🎶 Napster is cited as a pivotal moment that signaled the disruption of traditional industries by the internet.
  • 📱 The speaker's personal experience with technology, especially email systems, illustrates the shift from traditional methods to new platforms like Gmail.
  • 🔍 The frustration with Gmail's label system and the realization that many emails were not being backed up as expected.
  • 💡 The use of Google Apps Script to automate tasks and the speaker's attempt to fix the email backup issue.
  • 🤖 Introduction to ChatGPT and its ability to generate code based on a textual description, showcasing AI's potential in programming.
  • 🚀 The speaker's initial fear and awe upon realizing the capabilities of AI in writing code, drawing parallels to existential dread.
  • 🧠 A comparison of the human brain's predictive nature to AI's text prediction capabilities, questioning the essence of intelligence.
  • 🎨 A discussion on AI and creativity, the potential impact on jobs, and the ethical considerations surrounding AI-generated content.
  • 🔮 The speaker speculates on the future of AI and its possible transformative effects on the world, much like the internet has done before.

Q & A

  • What was the speaker's initial problem with their email system?

    -The speaker's initial problem was that their email backup was missing several recent messages, which turned out to be over a hundred thousand unlabelled messages over fifteen years.

  • How did Gmail's approach to email organization differ from traditional email systems?


  • What did the speaker dislike about Gmail's label system?

    -The speaker不喜欢Gmail的标签系统,因为他更喜欢文件夹的类比,这是他开始使用的方式,也是他已经习惯的。

  • How did the speaker attempt to solve the email backup issue?

    -The speaker attempted to solve the email backup issue by using Google的Apps Script服务编写简单的代码来自动化修复过程。

  • What AI tool did the speaker use to help with the coding process?

    -The speaker used ChatGPT to help with the coding process, by translating his text description into Google Apps Script code.

  • What was the speaker's reaction to the AI-generated code?

    -The speaker initially felt a pit-of-the-stomach, existential horror, but later realized that the AI was just predicting the next word and following his instructions, which it did correctly after some back-and-forth.

  • How does the speaker compare the AI's coding ability to his own?

    -The speaker felt that the AI's coding ability was about equal to his own, as it seemed like watching someone write code with occasional input from him.

  • What did the speaker mean when he said he was 'on the wrong end' of the AI technology?

    -The speaker meant that he felt like the music executive in 1999, worried that the rise of AI might disrupt his current way of life and work, just as Napster disrupted the music industry.

  • What was the speaker's conclusion about the potential impact of AI on the world?

    -The speaker concluded that if we are still at the beginning of the AI progress curve, similar to the Napster era, then everything is about to change rapidly and significantly.

  • What was the speaker's attitude towards the potential changes brought by AI?

    -The speaker expressed a mix of dread and uncertainty about the potential changes, worrying that his comfortable world might be about to change drastically.

  • What was the main metaphor used by the speaker to describe his feelings towards AI and technological change?

    -The main metaphor used by the speaker was his attachment to having his emails organized in folders, representing his resistance to change and the discomfort of adapting to new technologies.



🌐 Reflecting on Technological Evolution

The speaker begins by sharing their experience with the rapid transformation of the world due to the internet, especially for those under 25 who might not remember the pre-internet era. They discuss the S-shaped growth curve of useful technologies, starting with a slow takeoff, followed by an explosive growth phase, and eventually leveling off. The speaker reminisces about being on the cutting edge of this change, witnessing the disruption of various industries by the internet, starting with Napster. They express uncertainty about the future, especially as they find themselves in a world that is again on the brink of significant change, with a new S-curve emerging. The speaker's personal dilemma revolves around fixing their email system, which becomes a metaphor for the broader issue of adapting to technological change.


📁 The Email Organization Dilemma

The speaker delves into the specifics of their email organization problem, which arises from the transition from traditional email folders to Gmail's label system. Despite their preference for folders, they adapt to Gmail's label system to keep up with technological advancements. However, they encounter a significant issue with email backups, where replies within a thread are not automatically labeled, leading to a large number of unbacked-up messages. The speaker's frustration with this problem leads them to seek a solution without changing their workflow, which brings them to Google's Apps Script and eventually to the use of AI in coding.


🤖 AI's Role in Solving Technical Challenges

The speaker describes their experience using AI, specifically ChatGPT, to address the email labeling issue. They outline the process of translating their problem description into code using AI, and while the initial output was incorrect, the AI was able to correct it after further interaction. The speaker is amazed by the AI's ability to understand and rectify the mistake, even when the Google documentation was inaccurate. This experience raises questions about the potential of AI to replace certain jobs and the implications of AI's current position on the technological S-curve. The speaker acknowledges that while AI has come a long way, it still has limitations and is not yet ready to replace human creativity and problem-solving entirely.


🚀 Contemplating the Future of AI and Society

The speaker reflects on the broader societal implications of AI advancements, drawing parallels with the disruption caused by Napster in the late nineties. They contemplate whether AI, like Napster, might signal a significant shift in the technological landscape, affecting various industries and job roles. The speaker expresses a sense of dread and uncertainty about the future, fearing that they might be on the wrong side of this change, much like music executives during the rise of digital music. They acknowledge that while AI tools like ChatGPT are impressive, they are not yet capable of creative leaps or understanding complex nuances. The speaker concludes with a call for caution and consideration as AI continues to evolve and impact our world.

🛡️ NordVPN: A Tool for Secure and Accessible Internet

In the final paragraph, the speaker transitions to discussing NordVPN, a tool they use for maintaining connectivity and security while browsing the internet. They highlight the benefits of NordVPN, such as the ability to access content from anywhere in the world, bypass internet censorship, and access geo-restricted websites. The speaker also mentions additional features like multi-device connectivity and round-the-clock customer support. They recommend NordVPN to viewers seeking a reliable VPN service, providing a link for a special deal and emphasizing the value of online security and accessibility in today's digital landscape.




Artificial Intelligence (AI) refers to the simulation of human intelligence in machines that are programmed to think and learn like humans. In the context of the video, AI is the main theme, as the speaker discusses their experience with an AI program called ChatGPT, which was able to write code based on a textual description provided by the user. The speaker reflects on the implications of AI advancements on their own work and the world at large.

💡Existential crisis

An existential crisis is a moment of intense doubt or confusion about one's own existence, purpose, or the meaning of life. In the video, the speaker describes their encounter with AI as triggering an existential crisis, as they grapple with the potential changes AI could bring to the world and their personal sense of identity and relevance.

💡Sigmoid curve

A sigmoid curve is a mathematical function that models the growth of a process or phenomenon, which starts slowly, then accelerates, and finally reaches a plateau. In the video, the speaker uses the sigmoid curve to describe the adoption and development of new technologies, including AI, suggesting that we might be at the beginning or middle of such a curve with AI, which could lead to significant changes in the future.


Napster was one of the first popular peer-to-peer file sharing platforms, primarily used for sharing music files, and it played a significant role in the disruption of the music industry in the late 1990s. In the video, Napster is used as a metaphor for a disruptive technology that signaled a major change, similar to what the speaker fears AI might do to various industries.


Gmail is a free email service provided by Google, which introduced a system of labels instead of traditional folders for organizing emails. In the video, the speaker discusses their discomfort with Gmail's label system compared to the folder system they were used to, and this becomes the catalyst for their exploration of AI's capabilities when they attempt to automate a backup of their emails.

💡Google Apps Script

Google Apps Script is a scripting language built into the Google Suite, allowing users to write simple code to automate tasks and integrate with Google services like Gmail, Calendar, and Docs. In the video, the speaker uses Apps Script as a tool they initially intended to use to solve their email backup issue before turning to AI for assistance.


ChatGPT is an AI language model developed by OpenAI, known for its ability to generate human-like text based on input prompts. In the video, the speaker interacts with ChatGPT to translate their textual description of a problem into a Google Apps Script code, demonstrating the AI's capability to assist in coding tasks.


A backup refers to the process of making a copy of data or information to ensure its availability in case of loss or corruption of the original. In the video, the speaker's concern about the incomplete backup of their emails in Gmail leads them to explore the use of AI as a solution to automate the fixing of this issue.


Programming is the process of creating and implementing a sequence of instructions or code that directs a computer to perform specific tasks. In the video, the speaker reflects on their own programming skills and how they have become outdated, highlighting the ease with which AI can now assist in programming tasks.


A workflow refers to the sequence of steps or processes involved in completing a task or a project. In the video, the speaker is resistant to changing their workflow for managing emails, which leads them to seek a solution that can automate the backup process without requiring them to alter their established methods.


Creativity is the use of imagination or original ideas to create something new or to find new solutions to problems. In the video, the speaker discusses the role of creativity in AI, questioning whether AI's ability to generate code based on a description indicates a level of creativity and what implications this might have for artists and programmers.


NordVPN is a virtual private network (VPN) service provider that allows users to securely access the internet and bypass geographical restrictions on content. In the video, NordVPN is mentioned in the context of an advertisement, highlighting its features such as accessing content from anywhere and connecting multiple devices simultaneously.


The speaker reflects on the rapid transformation of the world due to technology, specifically recalling the mass adoption of the internet.

The Sigmoid curve of technology adoption is described, with a slow start, rapid growth, and eventual flattening.

Napster is highlighted as a pivotal moment in the disruption of industries by the internet.

The speaker's personal experience with the transition from traditional email folders to Gmail's labels is shared.

A significant issue with email backup is revealed, where over a hundred thousand emails were not backed up due to a misunderstanding of Gmail's label system.

Google Apps Script is introduced as a service that allows users to automate tasks, but its potential discontinuation is also acknowledged.

The speaker's attempt to code a solution to the email backup problem is detailed.

ChatGPT's ability to generate code from a text description is demonstrated, causing an existential crisis for the speaker.

The realization that AI might be at the beginning of a transformative sigmoid curve similar to the internet, leading to significant societal changes.

The speaker's interaction with ChatGPT, where it corrects errors and explains its approach, is highlighted.

ChatGPT's ability to bypass incorrect Google documentation and provide a working script is noted.

The speaker's concern about the potential for AI to disrupt his career and the world as he knows it, drawing a parallel to the music industry's struggle with Napster.

The anecdote of a non-technical person using ChatGPT to write an email signifies the widespread adoption and accessibility of AI.

The video includes a NordVPN advertisement, emphasizing its usefulness for accessing content and maintaining security online.

The speaker concludes with a sense of dread about the potential for AI to bring about rapid, unpredictable changes to the world.