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How ChatGPT's AI Chatbot Can Lower Your Bills, Plan Your Meals and More

Let AI take care of busywork to free up your time.

A cardboard craft-style open laptop with a chatty robot on the screen.
Chatbots just got a lot more complex with OpenAI's ChatGPT tool.
Carol Yepes/Getty Images

The new AI tool ChatGPT has inspired excitement and worry with its ability to instantly answer complex questions. In the days after its debut, people have discovered many ways it can make their lives easier -- including five we've found that rise above the rest.

ChatGPT is a chat-based tool built by research lab OpenAI that answers questions with somewhat conversational dialogue. Its natural language abilities will delight anyone who's had to rephrase questions to get answers out of Siri or Alexa. The AI, trained on the vast tracts of text available on the internet, knows about information only through 2021. But it's got plenty of info on nitty-gritty details and big concepts. That's got some educators agitated, but as long as you use it carefully, it can be something of a bonus brain.

To be clear, ChatGPT isn't a perfect substitute for doing your own research. It doesn't separate fact from fiction, as CNET science editor Jackson Ryan noted while detailing its present weaknesses in critical thinking. ChatGPT can answer questions and explain complex concepts, but its potential for inaccuracy has led StackOverflow to temporarily ban ChatGPT generated software.

That said, people are thinking big about how an advanced AI chatbot can work for you, from tackling your to-do list to potentially feeding you the best responses to get out of a traffic ticket. If you just want to save time on some tasks -- and aren't cheating on your English Lit paper -- here are some cool ways to use ChatGPT.

Get a chatbot to save you money

In a matter of weeks, a GPT-powered bot could lower the prices of your bills. Joshua Browder, CEO of DoNotPay -- the "world's first robot lawyer" that helps people fight traffic tickets and other bills -- tweeted that the company is building a Chrome extension based on ChatGPT's tech foundation to negotiate lower bills from internet providers, hospitals and more.

The extension will enter closed beta testing in mid-December, before an open beta in the first week of January. Though DoNotPay has been lowering bills for years, its rules-based model could only pick fights wherever users could submit online complaint forms. After integrating the conversational tech behind ChatGPT, DoNotPay can negotiate back-and-forth with any service that has chat for customer service, opening up the range of bills that can be challenged to include medical bills, credit reports and landlord-tenant disputes. 

"You can say to the bot, 'Go get me a refund for poor in-flight Wi-Fi'; it'll have your personal details saved and send [the complaint]," Browder told CNET. He believes the more natural language of the requests will be less suspicious than the rigid form letters DoNotPay had been sending before, allowing it to challenge more discerning -- and expensive -- institutions, like hospitals.

The GPT-powered extension will be free for part of its beta testing phase then eventually be added into DoNotPay's current bill-challenging subscription service, which costs $36 every three months.

Like Google's Duplex AI making voice calls for you, the future could be bots doing all the tedious legwork to get you better deals and cheaper bills.

Make a diet and workout plan

Changing your diet and planning an exercise routine takes work. To make it easier, Alex Cohen, a senior director of product at Carbon Health, used ChatGPT to make a health-improving plan with a daily calorie target, exercise suggestions, a weeklong list of meals and even a shopping list for all the necessary ingredients. He tweeted out his method in an illuminating thread:

Cohen broke down his plan in a series of steps, calculating his personal health metrics, asking for meals that would fit his daily caloric and nutritional needs, asking for a shopping list, and then an exercise plan to meet his needs.

ChatGPT is no substitute for a physician and dietitian who can cater a plan to your specific needs and physiology -- a caution the tool will tell you if you repeat Cohen's search terms. But it's an easy way to sketch out a health plan blueprint that you can check over yourself or bring to a health care professional.

Generate the next week's meals with a grocery list

A variation from the last point is worth spotlighting for anyone planning a week's worth of meals for multiple people.

First, ask ChatGPT for a list of meals, explain how many people you're cooking for and whether you're interested in dinners, breakfasts or lunches. Include any preferences and dietary restrictions. Detail how many days you want dining ideas, and poof, you have a list of meals. 

Next, ask for a shopping list for those meals. You'll get a pretty basic list of ingredients, so if you want exact amounts, you'll need to fine-tune your request. For example, you might want to ask for the total amount of ingredients for all the meals listed. GPT produces a shopping list with the number of cans, ounces, pounds and cups of each ingredient you'll need for a week's worth of meals.

Create a bedtime story for kids

ChatGPT-generated prose hasn't topped the bestseller lists yet, especially since it hasn't gotten the knack for creative style. But the tool can make a passable bedtime tale for children, concocting simple plots and language from basic prompts. For instance, I chose a cat who wanted to go to space, and ChatGPT gave me the tale of Max, who clawed his way past many obstacles to achieve his dreams among the stars.

Stanford grad student in machine learning Eric Zelikman tweeted the idea of using ChatGPT to generate a bedtime story and then feeding that text into OpenAI's DALL-E image-generating tool for illustrations.

It isn't going to replace traditionally published children's books. But if you're pressed for time or away from your kid's trove of bedtime tales, generating one through OpenAI's tools can be helpful.

Prep for an interview

If you need to prepare to interview an exciting source, you can ask ChatGPT to generate some thought-provoking questions, as entrepreneur Seth Bannon tweeted.

That could be handy if you're a journalist, or if you're grilling somebody on stage at an industry conference, prepping for a job interview or preparing for a dinner with someone you want to impress. 

You can even use it as a chat partner to set up mock conversations to practice what you're going to say. You can instruct it to respond in other languages or translate specific phrases, too. You could also use it to help refine your cover letters and emails for a bit of professional polish. ChatGPT isn't perfect, but when there's a lot of example copy on the internet it can crib from, it can be an adept communicator.

Editors' note: CNET is using an AI engine to create some personal finance explainers that are edited and fact-checked by our editors. For more, see this post.