Friday, 1 December 2023, 17:33
When ChatGPT burst onto the online scene exactly one year ago, Sonia Ingriselli was one of millions of curious people around the world who were keen to see what all the fuss was about.
The Canadian self-declared tech-geek, who now calls the Costa del Sol home, immediately asked this artificial intelligence (AI) technology, developed by American company OpenAI, to automatically produce a recipe for a Greek salad.
Impressed by its response, the search-engine optimisation (SEO) expert thought of something else to ask which she believed would be more challenging for the bot to answer.
The 49-year-old, who lives in Estepona with her partner and pet dog Disco, then asked ChatGPT to produce a eulogy about a fictitious woman named Edith.
To her surprise, not only did it produce flawless prose, but it even gave a personal touch at the end by offering its own sympathies: "My condolences for your loss, and I hope the eulogy serves as a fitting tribute to Edith's wonderful life," it wrote.
"When ChatGPT came out I thought 'this is the next big thing' and then I tried using it and I just knew there was no going back from this," Ingriselli told SUR in English.
The tool was quickly heralded as the next big thing in artificial intelligence, with potential for it to become just as smart as humans, or even more, after it first emerged in November last year.
Naysayers were silenced as the chatbot churned out anything from essays and poems to computing code on command, and it quickly took over screens, made headlines worldwide and dominated daily conversations.
"I haven't seen anything like this since the start of the internet or Google," Ingriselli said.
She grew up in Sudbury in Ontario and studied journalism, going on to work at country newspapers. She possessed a flair for words and was "obsessed with the internet", but journalism wasn't quite what she was after and she went back to university to study software engineering.
That's when it all clicked, although her first experience in the field wasn't exactly what she expected after starting out with some "shady people", including one man who is currently behind bars. They were so-called website flipping experts and would buy domains of websites making money, improve them by increasing online traffic, then selling them for a profit, she said. On one occasion, they made as much as 45,000 dollars from the sale of just one website.
Ingriselli also worked in the Canadian government's IT department before marrying her now ex-partner and deciding to start a new chapter of her life on the Costa del Sol in 2010.
Here, she used her expertise in search engine optimisation (SEO), web development, Google advertising and marketing to help companies, particularly real estate agencies, build their empires along the Costa. In doing so, Ingriselli has also been able to build a name for herself, where she has now become one of the Costa's most sought-after SEO experts. She now also calls herself an AI consultant and helps small business owners understand AI and how to implement its technologies such as ChatGBT.
"AI has completely changed the dynamics of everything," she said.
"I have ChatGPT do half of my work for me - it cuts my day by half and I can take on more clients. It's here to stay, governments around the world are already implementing it - there's no point fighting it, we have to become early adopters and take advantage of its uses."
Within less than six months of ChatGPT's release, Ingriselli had built up enough knowledge that she decided to write a book to inform people on how to maximise the technology.
She said the book - Automate to Elevate: Unleashing the Power of ChatGPT in Your Business: AI for Absolute Beginners - simplifies complex concepts and guides you step-by-step towards leveraging ChatGPT as your "virtual assistant".
"Because that's what it can be if you let it: it can be your assistant and who on Earth wouldn't want their own assistant?" she added.
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