ChatGPT for Housework in Singapore: Does it lighten the load?

October 5, 2023

While speaking of recent revolutions in the many realms of work, it is impossible to skimp over the Open AI-released chatbot, ChatGPT which offers not just one or two but a myriad of ways with how people can prioritise work. Ever since Open AI, the artificial intelligence company, released the language model ChatGPT, it has disrupted education systems, made predictions in the job market, and drawn millions of users from all sectors. This chatbot has become a glimmer for people working in the tech sector by responding to prompts faster than ever.

ChatGPT's Evolution: From Text to Voice

Not too long after we have already said hello to ChatGPT-4—the new and even more powerful version of the bot—we're on the brink of welcoming its latest evolution—a chatbot with voice capabilities. With more people eager to understand whether this version will help us shape work or at least release our load in more areas of work, the voice-enabled version of ChatGPT is about to roll out to its Plus subscribers soon, a good population also wants to know whether it will compete with other virtual assistants like Alexa and Siri and help us sort some of their housework.

ChatGPT in the Household: A Helping Hand or Hurdle?

As much as writing enthusiasts and people in other professional settings are trying to use ChatGPT, many people are also trying to see if they can really rely on it to share the burden of housework. Through the prompts they give, some are trying to generate meal plans, assist with their kids’ homework, prepare a destination-specific travel itinerary, create fitness plans, get DIY ideas—and the list goes on. However, it is not yet clear whether these AI-assisted chatbots will really save us some time or energy planning and doing household chores: we are unsure whether help from chatbots will always be satisfactory and whether achieving the desired outcome with them might take longer than if we did the tasks ourselves.

AI Assistants for Daily Tasks: Expectations vs. Realities

Those who have been relying on chatbots for one-time tasks tend to be more satisfied when compared to those who want to get some help for routine tasks with a slice of difference, that needs a little bit of imagination or personalisation in both planning and execution. Take cooking for instance—while ChatGPT can help us make recipes online, the use of some ingredients in the recipes it generates can be questionable. Janelle Shane, an optics research scientist posted a few recipes generated by ChatGPT-3 in her machine-learning human blog, AI Weirdness, that were a bit funny. It might add some unnecessary ingredients and will not reason why some ingredients are added in a particular order too. Neither will it tell us what to do if something goes off while cooking the dish, we mean, in a practical sense.

What this neural network does is it analyses digital texts, identifies billions of patterns the same way we connect words, and uses them to generate content. This is true for recipes and itineraries too. The model seems to respond to personal prompts with more details like what ingredients we often use and what flavours we like, but then again, it consumes more time than finding a recipe that’s already on the internet. Having said all that, the model could help us with some kind of inspiration if we already have something in mind like what dish to prepare or a set of ingredients. It could give us something to start with or a lot of ideas in the blink of an eye.

Though the inconvenience of adding random things to what the chatbot generates has improved with the newer version, it still takes time and effort to get personal with the chatbot by making it understand things like the flavours we prefer, the ingredients we often have in our refrigerator, and so on. Similar is the case with planning a vacation and even creating a timetable for our kids when we really do not want to miss all their specific quirks associated with their daily life— one should sit and refine the prompts according to what one’s kids prefer. When you stop and think about recipes as well, timeless recipes are always what our ancestors passed on to us that are mixed with their tastes, experiments, and feelings. Therefore, in such scenarios, this technology can never replace human intuition and warmth, which are essential for a good recipe, a good vacation itinerary, and every other task we wish to personalise.

Time-Saving or Time-Consuming? The Real Cost of AI Assistance

While everything including timetables, diet plans, itineraries, recipes and all related results generated by computer models can contain precise measurements and step-by-step instructions, the answer to whether they can save our time is still not up to scratch. As per the latest data by the Department of Statistics in Singapore, there are more employed people in Singapore, and with more people engaged in employed settings, the time to use and familiarise themselves with prompts and refining it might seem like another job itself. So, they might be more than happy to depend on home service providers like Sendhelper to help manage their homes.

Furthermore, more advancements in AI would also not make us save time on house chores. As technology advances, so do our standards. For instance, the Singapore Management University (SMU) conducted the fourth wave of the Public Cleanliness Satisfaction Survey in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic. It found that the overall perception of hygiene in Singapore remains high. The increased awareness of cleanliness in Singaporean neighbourhoods after the COVID-19 pandemic has also made people rely on cleaning services more frequently. This improvement in standards is true in almost every realm of advancement. Our standards on reliability on technological advancements also shoot up— whether it is on an AI-assisted chatbot doesn’t really matter.

The best way we can use the chatbot for our homes is to discover new ideas and give specific prompts and precise instructions instead of asking general questions. It can occasionally misunderstand prompts and generate wrong or accurate results, so human oversight is something one cannot avoid. A video of wage slavery with a robot killing itself after 15 minutes of routine work has gone viral on the internet in April. So, investing all our trust in machines can sooner or later invite bigger disappointments. Moreover, a technology columnist, Kevin Roose, also raised his concerns about AI’s emerging abilities as well as its detachment from grounded reality and suggested that they invite more harm.

Navigating the Future of AI in Housework Management

The future might hold more possibilities to make maximum use of technology to streamline housework management as AI continues to evolve and Google researchers enthusiastically keep learning how machines learn. Experimental AI agents like Auto-GPT that do autonomous tasks are still looked at with hope, we must rely on our own capabilities or on professional cleaning companies until they make promising changes. The cherry on top for award-winning home servicing companies like Sendhelper is flexibility—our services are available in Singapore 365 days a year. Plus, you’re going to save big by availing discounts on services like cleaning, deep-cleaning, laundry, aircon servicing, packing and moving, and more.

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