ChatGPT and the Homeless
Using Artificial Intelligence to bridge social and economic divides
Over the last decade, I’ve had the privilege of being in the middle of creative writing projects with hundreds of people. Most of them are—or were at the time—homeless and living on the streets.
At first, just a few thought of themselves as writers. In time, most of those folks gave it a shot: joining one of the workshops and then writing essays and articles and stories about their life and experiences on the streets.
Some of those pieces came from incredibly talented writers, whose work continues to blow me away. Others were competent and steady. Many of those pieces can be read today on Speak Up. (Thank you, dear writers, for your courageous work!)
But many struggled. Grammar was hard. Punctuation a mystery. Capitalization optional. I read a lot of poorly-written work. Some was so bad that no amount of editing, however heavy-handed, could rescue it. For those storytellers, we sometimes switched to a verbal approach: they’d speak it aloud and it would be transcribed.
Some of the new AI-driven writing tools have me thinking about the folks who struggled. You’ve probably come across news stories about the potential, the horror, or the hilarity of this technology—in education, business, life.
Writing can be a key that unlocks other opportunities. These tools can help individuals with limited writing skills to produce more polished and professional written content, which can be important in many aspects of life, including job applications, resume building, and business communication.
AI can be a powerful tool to help individuals with poor writing skills improve their communication abilities and advance economically. AI-powered writing tools can offer features like grammar and punctuation checking, sentence structure suggestions, and even suggestions for alternative words or phrasing.
How could this play out for someone challenged writing skills?
Here’s a possible example using ChatGPT.
We start with this sentence:
i saw your ad for the job learning how to become a plumber and i need a job so im wondering if you are still hiring ppl
And then use the following query:
rewrite this sentence to be a better email
Here’s the result:
I came across your advertisement for the job opening to learn plumbing skills, and I'm writing to inquire whether the position is still available. As someone who is seeking employment, I am interested in exploring this opportunity to learn and develop new skills in the plumbing industry.
Thank you for considering my application, and I look forward to hearing back from you soon.
Effective written communication skills can be crucial in many industries, and individuals who are able to communicate their ideas and thoughts clearly and professionally may have a better chance of securing employment or attracting clients.
Of course, this won’t happen without effort and intervention. The people facing homelessness that I know are not wondering how the latest tech can help bridge their communication gaps and accelerate them forward.
Needed: innovators and creative thinkers to use AI for social good. Use it to empower those with educational gaps and bridge economic and digital divides.
What do you think?
As a volunteer at a Clubhouse International facility that serves individuals facing mental health challenges, I work in the Career Development Unit to assist members in securing employment or continuing their education. One of the most challenging aspects of our work is supporting individuals who are experiencing homelessness or are at risk of becoming homeless. Unfortunately, there are limited housing options available, with group homes often being the only viable option for those with significant challenges. Our main focus is on helping members find employment, but it can be difficult to find positions that are both fulfilling and attainable, often requiring them to start at entry-level positions or pursue further education.
ChatGPT can help with resume writing and generate mock interview questions but the bottom line is a person still has to have the ability to land and keep the job.
As an aside, I write a substack titled "Legends of My Own Mind" DouglasBlom.substack.com. I write for a hobby and I ran out of ideas. I credited ChatGPT in my last post for finding some analogies and ideas. I thought the poem to be interesting, a series of contradicting statements, titled "One Man's Silence:
"One man's silence is another man's peace,
One man's daughter is another man’s niece.
One man's winter is another man's summer,
One man's ecstasy is another man's bummer.
One man's problem is another man's solution,
One man's beginning is another man's conclusion....
Oh wow. This is use case hadn't occurred to me. Genius!