I’m writing this story with a little help from my new AI friend. It will be offering suggestions as I type – in case I get stuck or need a fresh idea.
There’s an icon floating at the side of the page, ready to offer help with any of the following: Explain, Emphasize, Expand on, Give an Example, Counterargument, Define, Give an Analogy, Statistical Fact, Make a Joke, Historical Fact, Nature Fact, and Inspirational Quote.
Wordtune Spices was launched today, positioning itself somewhere between a spelling and grammar checker and ChatGPT, the full-blown AI chatbot that writes an entire story, article, speech or poem from a single prompt.
AI21Labs, an Israeli startup, created Spices as an extra feature inside Wordtune, an existing piece of software that helps writers with fluency, vocabulary, style and more.
So let’s see, here and now, how it could improve the story you’re now reading. What can it offer if I highlight the first line – “I’m writing this story with a little help from my new AI friend.”
If I click for an explanation, this is what it suggests: “My AI friend is a program that can help me generate ideas, suggest better words and phrases, and even help me with grammar and spelling. It’s a great tool that helps me write better and faster.”
If I decide it should be more emphatic, it responds with: “With AI’s assistance, I’m crafting a tale that will hopefully capture the reader’s imagination.”
Can it come up with an analogy? “It’s like having an invisible mentor by my side, guiding and advising me with every step of my writing journey.”
Will it crack a joke? “He’s not the best conversationalist, but he’s great at coming up with puns, so I guess that’s a plus!”
If I’m not rolling on the floor with laughter I can ask for another. “Unfortunately AI Friend doesn’t have a great sense of humor, so I’m adding some of my own!”
Readers love statistics, so maybe it’ll offer me something useful. Spices directs me to the website of the Computing Technology Industry Association, which highlights for me the fact that “86 per cent of CEOs report that AI is considered mainstream technology in their office as of 2021.”
I’m thinking at this point that a historical fact might help things along. “The earliest successful AI program was written in 1951 by Christopher Strachey, later director of the Programming Research Group at the University of Oxford.” That’s according to Encyclopædia Britannica.
Or maybe a quote? “Steve Jobs famously said: ‘What a computer is to me is the most remarkable tool that we have ever come up with. It’s the equivalent of a bicycle for our minds’.”
Sign up for our free weekly newsletterSubscribe
Ori Goshen, Co-founder and Co-CEO of AI21 Labs, which developed the software, explains the thinking behind Spices. “When you’re writing for a living, sometimes you get stuck. Nothing comes to mind. You feel like there’s information missing, or there’s another angle that you need to add.
“So when you feel stuck, you can click on the Spices menu. There’s currently a collection of 12 different spices that you can choose from. You add it to your writing, like you add spice to your food.
“You want to add a statistical fact or make a joke, or you want to find an analogy, or you want to put a counterargument. The system generates a sentence or a few sentences that are relevant and related to the context of what you wrote.”
Unlike ChatGPT, it doesn’t write the whole thing for you. You’re still in the driving seat, but Spices is sitting next to you, ready to offer help if you ask.
It provides a source for all the facts it provides, allowing the writer to double-check and attribute.
So who will be using it? “People who write reports, knowledge workers, analysts, bloggers, people that write for a living, journalists. I also think students will find it useful.”
How do you stop students using software like this to enhance their essays? “I think the education system will need to reinvent itself,” says Goshen. “There needs to be a dramatic change in the nature of assignments, to make them more challenging, in a way that still requires the human touch.”
While I was writing this, I also asked Spices to provide a counterargument to my first sentence and I was taken aback by its response: “On the other hand, there are some people who believe that AI will never be able to replicate the creativity and intuition of human beings. They believe that AI is merely a tool that can help us with certain tasks, but will never be able to fully replace the human mind.”
I underestimated its ability to read my mind, as well as offer writing suggestions. Thankfully Spices is not going to be taking my job any time soon, not that it positions itself as a replacement writer. It’s very much an assistant. Will I use it? Probably not. I see the benefits if I’m after a fact, a stat or a quote in a hurry.
But it’s like a box of chocolates – you never know what you’re gonna get – so I’d rather do my own research. And when it comes to crafting a sentence, I trust my own instincts too much to rely on a computer. But time will tell. Maybe I’ll keep it switched on, just in case.
Spices was launched today on a freemium basis – try it for free, pay if you upgrade to regular use.