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Neurodiversity and ChatGPT


A profile rendering of a brain floating in a blue background
A profile rendering of a brain floating in a blue background

During my podcast with Rick Doten about neurodiversity, it occurred to me that ChatGTP offers a solution to one of the largest issues for neurodivergent (or impatient/busy) people, which is that it can write your emails for you. Let's say you are someone who simply cannot bother with fluff, either because you find it obnoxious and tedious, or simply because you do not understand what it takes to be a pleasant person to your co-workers, customers, vendors, etc. What are you to do when you really just want to write a one word answer back because that is all that is required? Enter ChatGPT and the power of a large language model. It can do that heavy lifting on your behalf. Let's say you get an email that reads:


From: Jennifer Smith Hey, Josh, I know you're super busy, but I haven't heard anything about project Artemis. We're getting a lot of flack from the customer about delays, and I need to get them back something soon. Do you think we're going to make our Jan 18th deadline that we promised last month? I'm worried, if we don't do it I'm going to have to go back to the customer again and I really don't want to do that. Hoping for good news!

And all you really want to answer is, the diminutive but nonetheless useful:


yes

At best Jennifer is going to think you're super busy and don't have much time for her and her silly questions, and at worst she'll think you're pissed off at her asking, and will try to avoid working with you in the future, or will want to fix something that isn't broken wasting even more precious company resources for no net benefit. That's not a great outcome when you're really just being efficient.


What if we instead re-format this to where an employee could cut and paste the details into a boilerplate prompt that will do that heavy lifting on your behalf:

I just got the following email: --- Beginning of email --- From: Jennifer Smith Hey, Josh, I know you're super busy, but I haven't heard anything about project Artemis. We're getting a lot of flack from the customer about delays, and I need to get them back something soon. Do you think we're going to make our Jan 18th deadline that we promised last month? I'm worried, if we don't do it I'm going to have to go back to the customer again and I really don't want to do that. Hoping for good news! --- End of email --- Please change the following response into a more full-formed email that includes: some sort of friendly salutation, followed by thanking them for their email, a restatement of their question, my thoughtful reply acknowledging the importance of their question, tell them they can reach out any time for more questions or clarifications, thanking them for their email again and a sign-off. Make the language friendly yet professional. My name: Josh My response: yes

The email goes in the middle of where the dotted lines go, your name stays the same and your response is however brief or lengthy as you need it to be. Then the output becomes:


--- Beginning of email response --- Subject: RE: Update on Project Artemis Hi Jennifer, First and foremost, thank you for reaching out and expressing your concerns about Project Artemis. I understand you're inquiring about the progress of the project and our upcoming Jan 18th deadline. I'm glad to inform you that the answer is yes, we are on track for our Jan 18th deadline. I fully recognize the importance of this deadline and the pressures we're under from the customer. Please rest assured that we're doing our utmost to ensure we deliver on our commitments. Always feel free to reach out with any more questions or if you need further clarifications. Open communication is key, and I'm here to help. Once again, thank you for your email and for highlighting the urgency of the matter. Your dedication to ensuring our customer's satisfaction is greatly appreciated. Warm regards, Josh --- End of email response ---

That is so substantially better for the reader who needs to be coddled that it is kind of amazing. Yes, it's inefficient, but it is exactly the kind of thing most sensitive people want to read - a thoughtful and ultimately wordy reply. In reality it is exactly as thoughtful as the 'yes' originally outlined in your prompt, but they won't be aware of that. This could really help people who are neurodivergent who have trouble with written communication and could use some help navigating the corporate landscape. So perhaps there is help to be had for people of all abilities/facilities, when LLMs can do the heavy lifting for you. Turning a one word answer into four detailed and thoughtful paragraphs could be a lifesaver in a corporate world, where people's fragile egos need to be stroked.

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