Simon Willison’s Weblog


13 items tagged “ethan-mollick”


The expansion of the jagged frontier of AI capability is subtle and requires a lot of experience with various models to understand what they can, and can’t, do. That is why I suggest that people and organizations keep an “impossibility list” - things that their experiments have shown that AI can definitely not do today but which it can almost do. For example, no AI can create a satisfying puzzle or mystery for you to solve, but they are getting closer. When AI models are updated, test them on your impossibility list to see if they can now do these impossible tasks.

Ethan Mollick

# 4th July 2024, 10:38 pm / ai, llms, ethan-mollick

To learn to do serious stuff with AI, choose a Large Language Model and just use it to do serious stuff - get advice, summarize meetings, generate ideas, write, produce reports, fill out forms, discuss strategy - whatever you do at work, ask the AI to help. [...]

I know this may not seem particularly profound, but “always invite AI to the table” is the principle in my book that people tell me had the biggest impact on them. You won’t know what AI can (and can’t) do for you until you try to use it for everything you do.

Ethan Mollick

# 6th June 2024, 3:03 pm / ai, llms, ethan-mollick

In every group I speak to, from business executives to scientists, including a group of very accomplished people in Silicon Valley last night, much less than 20% of the crowd has even tried a GPT-4 class model.

Less than 5% has spent the required 10 hours to know how they tick.

Ethan Mollick

# 9th March 2024, 3:55 am / ai, generative-ai, gpt4, llms, ethan-mollick

Google’s Gemini Advanced: Tasting Notes and Implications. Ethan Mollick reviews the new Google Gemini Advanced—a rebranded Bard, released today, that runs on the GPT-4 competitive Gemini Ultra model.

“GPT-4 [...] has been the dominant AI for well over a year, and no other model has come particularly close. Prior to Gemini, we only had one advanced AI model to look at, and it is hard drawing conclusions with a dataset of one. Now there are two, and we can learn a few things.”

I like Ethan’s use of the term “tasting notes” here. Reminds me of how Matt Webb talks about being a language model sommelier.

# 8th February 2024, 3:10 pm / google, ai, generative-ai, gpt4, bard, llms, ethan-mollick, gemini

For many people in many organizations, their measurable output is words - words in emails, in reports, in presentations. We use words as proxy for many things: the number of words is an indicator of effort, the quality of the words is an indicator of intelligence, the degree to which the words are error-free is an indicator of care.

[...] But now every employee with Copilot can produce work that checks all the boxes of a formal report without necessarily representing underlying effort.

Ethan Mollick

# 2nd February 2024, 3:34 am / ethics, ai, generative-ai, llms, ethan-mollick


When I speak in front of groups and ask them to raise their hands if they used the free version of ChatGPT, almost every hand goes up. When I ask the same group how many use GPT-4, almost no one raises their hand. I increasingly think the decision of OpenAI to make the “bad” AI free is causing people to miss why AI seems like such a huge deal to a minority of people that use advanced systems and elicits a shrug from everyone else.

Ethan Mollick

# 10th December 2023, 8:17 pm / ai, openai, generative-ai, chatgpt, gpt4, llms, ethan-mollick

We already know one major effect of AI on the skills distribution: AI acts as a skills leveler for a huge range of professional work. If you were in the bottom half of the skill distribution for writing, idea generation, analyses, or any of a number of other professional tasks, you will likely find that, with the help of AI, you have become quite good.

Ethan Mollick

# 25th September 2023, 4:37 pm / ai, generative-ai, llms, ethan-mollick

Increasingly powerful AI systems are being released at an increasingly rapid pace. [...] And yet not a single AI lab seems to have provided any user documentation. Instead, the only user guides out there appear to be Twitter influencer threads. Documentation-by-rumor is a weird choice for organizations claiming to be concerned about proper use of their technologies, but here we are.

Ethan Mollick

# 16th July 2023, 12:12 am / ethics, ai, generative-ai, ethan-mollick

What AI can do with a toolbox... Getting started with Code Interpreter. Ethan Mollick has been doing some very creative explorations of ChatGPT Code Interpreter over the past few months, and has tied a lot of them together into this useful introductory tutorial.

# 12th July 2023, 8:57 pm / ai, openai, generative-ai, chatgpt, llms, ethan-mollick, code-interpreter

There are many reasons for companies to not turn efficiency gains into headcount or cost reduction. Companies that figure out how to use their newly productive workforce should be able to dominate those who try to keep their post-AI output the same as their pre-AI output, just with less people. And companies that commit to maintaining their workforce will likely have employees as partners, who are happy to teach others about the uses of AI at work, rather than scared workers who hide their AI for fear of being replaced.

Ethan Mollick

# 14th May 2023, 2:17 pm / ethics, ai, ethan-mollick

Blinded by Analogies (via) Ethan Mollick discusses how many of the analogies we have for AI right now are hurting rather than helping our understanding, particularly with respect to LLMs.

# 5th April 2023, 5 am / ai, generative-ai, llms, ethan-mollick

How to use AI to do practical stuff: A new guide (via) Ethan Mollick’s guide to practical usage of large language model chatbot like ChatGPT 3.5 and 4, Bing, Claude and Bard is the best I’ve seen so far. He includes useful warnings about common traps and things that these models are both useful for and useless at.

# 31st March 2023, 6:17 am / bing, ai, chatgpt, bard, llms, ethan-mollick, claude

New AI game: role playing the Titanic. Fantastic Bing prompt from Ethan Mollick: “I am on a really nice White Star cruise from Southampton, and it is 14th April 1912. What should I do tonight?”—Bing takes this very seriously and tries to help out! Works for all sorts of other historic events as well.

# 26th February 2023, 3:53 am / bing, ai, generative-ai, llms, ethan-mollick