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On the left is the first paragraph of an essay that Stephen Wolfram published in mid-February 2023 to explain ChatGPT: what it does and why it works. On the right side are three comments that demonstrate how we are beginning to explore the use of AI Thinking Partners on NowComment.

After a period of iterative testing, we settled on a prompt for each of these partners: A Summarizer, “The Author,” and A Marxist. These are three example of different types of Thinking Partners that we are developing.

We uploaded Wolfram’s essay to NowComment, then we selected the first paragraph. One at a time, we posed different questions to the three Thinking Partners. In each case three items were sent via API to OpenAI’s GPT3.5 Large Language Model: Wolfram’s paragraph, a question, and a definition of the partner that we had composed in a prompt. After choosing the paragraph (we can also choose one sentence), we clicked on the icon for Thinking Partners, then selected the partner we wanted to question.

On NowComment there are two boxes for commenting on a text, a field on top that has a limited character count and a field below that is unlimited. When collaborating with a Thinking Partner, a user’s question is sent to the top field of an unpublished comment box. The text generated by AI that is based on the three items that we sent it is collected in the bottom field.

Before posting this collaborative comment next to the paragraph that the user is referring to, they are able (and we are thinking of ways of encourage them) to edit both their question and the AI answer that comes to them. It is up to the user to be sure that the comment that they are posting is helpful (for other readers), honest (about facts and things that might have been quoted), and harmless (with no biases or misdirection).

Once satisfied with the collaborative text, a user hits the button to Start Conversation. Then, we hope that the user will hit reply to continue the conversation. We are designing the Thinking Partners to end their comments by asking what the user thinks.

We have a lot of questions about how to design these Thinking Partners, and how they will be used by teachers and their students to support their reading. When we test Thinking Partners, we use short stories and excerpts from novels as well as non-fiction text that is exhibited above. We are at the beginning of this work and we are looking for people to think and work with us. Please let us know if you are interested to help us to design AI Thinking Partners to use to engage readers and support their understanding of texts on NowComment.


Wolfram, Stephen. “What Is Chatgpt Doing … and Why Does It Work?” Stephen Wolfram Writings RSS, 14 Feb. 2023, https://writings.stephenwolfram.com/2023/02/what-is-chatgpt-doing-and-why-does-it-work

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March 23, 2023 9:47 pm

Thank you for posting this. I like the three roles – they make sense. The summarizer comments and question (“Do you understand the text? Tell me what you’re thinking about it”) are really interesting. I am curious about the range of student responses (anything from “I think I get it and ChatGPT seems okay.” Could be: “I think ChatGPT is …[with lots of details]”). I wonder also about questions like “What did I miss in my summary?” or “What would you add?” – that kind of thing.

I’m also interested in the author question’s focus on “from the get-go” as opposed to a focus on “by the end.” It would be really cool to try both of those questions out to see if there are differences in responses or understandings. I’m also really curious to think about the author’s role and comments when it comes to reading literary texts.

Love the Marxist lens.

Thank you again! I haven’t been able to make the Wednesday meetings, but I am following all this cool work. I would love to join you as you design AI Thinking Partners.

Youth Voices is an open publishing and social networking platform for youth. The site is organized by teachers with support from the National Writing Project. Opinions expressed by writers are their own.  See more About Youth VoicesTerms of ServicePrivacy Policy.All work on Youth Voices is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License

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