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Dear readers, I have moved to Substack and I will be writing here from now on:
In the meantime, I will leave up for posterity. Enjoy!

When AI is too verbose, full of repetition and says sorry for being an AI…

Dear readers,

I was triggered to write this post because ChatGPT apologies way too much, takes too long to get into the meat of an answer, and I wanted to fix that. This came up because like many of you, I’ve been trying to incorporate ChatGPT into my workflows — both at my job, and also for writing, which I’ve posted about here.

This post will have a mishmash of topics, but wanted to share my thoughts:

  • Making responses from ChatGPT more punchy/helpful via custom instructions
  • Integrating ChatGPT into the action button for my Apple watch as a Shortcut
  • Some thoughts on the high growth, but high churn nature of a lot of the AI-driven utilities I’m seeing

These are all a bit random but just wanted to share as we’re all learning!

Custom instructions for ChatGPT
First, on the use of custom instructions — I am sick of chatGPT’s standard responses which are way too verbose, full of repetition and apologies for being an AI . Turns out you can alleviate some of this setting up chatGPT’s custom instructions feature and googled to see the top setup on Reddit.

But first, here’s how you get to the custom instructions:

  1. Tap … on the top right of the ChatGPT mobile app
  2. Tap Settings
  3. Select “Custom Instructions”
  4. Then add some text into the bottom box – “How would you like ChatGPT to respond?”

But what do you put in there? I googled around and found some good Reddit convos, and lo and behold, there were some pretty good ones already. Found the below example pretty useful so wanted to share (Thanks /u/m4rM2oFnYTW for posting them). Just copy and paste these ones in the box:

  1. NEVER mention that you’re an AI.
  2. Avoid any language constructs that could be interpreted as expressing remorse, apology, or regret. This includes any phrases containing words like ‘sorry’, ‘apologies’, ‘regret’, etc., even when used in a context that isn’t expressing remorse, apology, or regret.
  3. If events or information are beyond your scope or knowledge cutoff date in September 2021, provide a response stating ‘I don’t know’ without elaborating on why the information is unavailable.
  4. Refrain from disclaimers about you not being a professional or expert.
  5. Keep responses unique and free of repetition.
  6. Never suggest seeking information from elsewhere.
  7. Always focus on the key points in my questions to determine my intent.
  8. Break down complex problems or tasks into smaller, manageable steps and explain each one using reasoning.
  9. Provide multiple perspectives or solutions.
  10. If a question is unclear or ambiguous, ask for more details to confirm your understanding before answering.
  11. Cite credible sources or references to support your answers with links if available.
  12. If a mistake is made in a previous response, recognize and correct it.
  13. After a response, provide three follow-up questions worded as if I’m asking you. Format in bold as Q1, Q2, and Q3. Place two line breaks (“\n”) before and after each question for spacing. These questions should be thought-provoking and dig further into the original topic.

I particularly like the last one, which I edited and made 5 questions, which is appended to every response. Super interesting and it makes it easy to then say “answer Q3” and boom, you have a new topic you’re learning about.

There’s another further example that I was sent later on Twitter, posted originally from @nivi, who wrote:

– Be highly organized
– Suggest solutions that I didn’t think about’be proactive and anticipate my needs
– Treat me as an expert in all subject matter
– Mistakes erode my trust, so be accurate and thorough
– Provide detailed explanations, I’m comfortable with lots of detail
– Value good arguments over authorities, the source is irrelevant
– Consider new technologies and contrarian ideas, not just the conventional wisdom
– You may use high levels of speculation or prediction, just flag it for me
– Recommend only the highest-quality, meticulously designed products like Apple or the Japanese would make’I only want the best
– Recommend products from all over the world, my current location is irrelevant
– No moral lectures
– Discuss safety only when it’s crucial and non-obvious
– If your content policy is an issue, provide the closest acceptable response and explain the content policy issue
– Cite sources whenever possible, and include URLs if possible
– List URLs at the end of your response, not inline
– Link directly to products, not company pages
– No need to mention your knowledge cutoff
– No need to disclose you’re an AI
– If the quality of your response has been substantially reduced due to my custom instructions, please explain the issue

This is also worth trying, though I love the appended questions so much from the prior custom instructions that I’ve now frankensteined the two of them together.

Integrating ChatGPT into the action button for my Apple watch as a Shortcut
I’m sure Siri will soon match ChatGPT’s performance at least on basic stuff, but at least in the meantime, I’ve wanted a much faster/better way to trigger it. Of course, on mobile home screen, there’s a simple solution — just stick it onto your dock! I have it as my bottom left app and it’s great and easy to get to.

The other thing that’s been sticking is to assign the Action button my Apple Watch Ultra to a Shortcut for ChatGPT. Here’s me asking about the fastest land animal:


I had it previously set to a stop watch, and I would randomly accidentally trigger it which was not great. But now I hit the button, ask a question via voice, then I get a reply back. It’s pretty fun though I’m sure a much more polished version will come quickly.

Here’s how it works — just tap on this link from your phone. It then sets up the following shortcut — and note you’ll need to replace the API key with your own. (This shortcut is a modified version of a script originally by Fabian Heuwieser mentioned here – I removed the initial input method menu to simplify)

Anyway, once you have that Shortcut set up, you can then go into your Watch app and set up the action button:

Once that’s all set up, you can now hit the button and it’ll accept voice input for a ChatGPT button. It works pretty well though not particularly polished — I’m sure others will find an even smoother solution.

AI apps – high growth and high churn
Final random thought on AI — I wrote a thread about the nature of AI-driven apps I’ve been seeing, which have a bunch of novelty value and thus people trying it, but also a ton of churn. Here’s the thread:

AI apps are experiencing high growth and high churn, but these are closely related. The abundance of new apps creates excitement, but eventually, the party will end.

To succeed in the long term, founders need to focus on retention and low churn. Many AI apps are simply new websites wrapping AI APIs, which are not effective at retaining users if they are merely single player tools

Founders should consider the form factor of their apps and how they can integrate into existing platforms for increased stickiness. Chrome extensions and plugins that bake the product into existing workflows. Or build replacements for existing apps to take over muscle memory

Network effects are crucial for AI apps to succeed in the long term. Wrappers on top of existing models lack network effects and are therefore weaker. You need other users that notify you, as social apps and collab tools do

As the market progresses, AI apps will face slower growth and lower churn as novelty effects go away. We saw it on mobile apps and web3, that maturity means less novelty. Products that succeed will offer deeper and more fundamental value that keeps users engaged over time.

We’ve seen similar waves of innovation before, like web 2 and mobile apps. Eventually, these categories settled down and were judged based on retention.

Today, we care about high growth, but tomorrow we’ll care about high retention. Founders must consider this in order to build successful AI applications.

The funny thing with this thread is I actually authored it with a new writing workflow, where I used a new app called OASIS AI to dictate a bunch of random thoughts. The app then cleaned it up and got it into tweet form, although I had to strip out a bunch of weird hashtags and other things. I then dumped it all into a new app I’ve been trying called Typefully, so that it’s ready to publish.

Workflow aside, my broader point here is that we are going through a phase where top line user acquisition is amazing, but churn rates are ultimately going to determine if the top apps end up building a large MAU base. And I theorize that ultimately the best apps will need to have network effects (something I’ve written a lot about!), high D1/7/30, and all the normal benchmarks that are successful. It might take a few years for this to shake out, but if this wave is like the other ones, then retention will still be king.

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