How AI Tech Will Disrupt Businesses (24th February)

Do you ever feel like you might have gotten yourself in something a little bigger than you’d imagined was possible?

Excited to announce that I’ll be speaking about AI for the “How AI Tech Will Disrupt Businesses” panel on the 24th of February! Thank you Vulcan Post for the feature and MrMoney TV x Entrepreneurs and Startups Malaysia for the invitation!

You’ll be able to meet me there directly and hear me talk about the ways AI is going to change businesses around the world alongside my fellow panelist, Richard Ker!

If you’ve not heard of Richard, the man is a legend at creating incredible infographics and marketing, and I respect both his trite observations and the value that he’s created for literally thousands of people throughout Malaysia and far beyond; the man is a true blue digital authority, If you’re looking for something specific, feel free to check out this article that he’s written on Facebook, amongst other things; the man is everywhere!

In other words, what does this mean?

It means I need to level up!

This conference is something that I’m truly honored to be a part of, and a wonderful opportunity to learn from many incredible minds that I won’t be missing by any stretch of the imagination.

As we speak, I’m preparing for with all my might at the moment even as I read and learn more about artificial intelligence, building up that reading habit again thoughtfully documented by my dear friend Sandy Clarke and that I’ll make sure to work towards in the days ahead as I build this platform.

Meanwhile, if you haven’t already, please feel free to join Artificial Intelligence Malaysia! I’ve had some pretty wild conversations in the past day or so, and it would be great to add a diversity of voices to the group especially if you’re really interested in AI and everything that it has to offer 🙂

In preparation for that, know that I’ve been reading extensively and creating lots of other content as well because I know that anything I have to make this worth your time, and will do my very best to do so.

Till we meet, then!

ChatGPT in Teaching And Education: No Cheating Required (Part I – Students)

Victor Tan here in the house hitting you with yet another AI post! Today, we’re talking about everyone’s favorite AI text generator! In case you’ve not heard of ChatGPT just yet for some reason, it’s an AI tool that can generate human-like text based on a given prompt. It’s a variant of the well-known GPT (short for “Generative Pre-training Transformer”) created by OpenAI.

ChatGPT got pretty viral recently because outlets like Forbes and Wall Street Journal have been writing articles about how it’s been generating essays in mere minutes that, if actually submitted, would definitely count as cheating.

Here’s what ChatGPT says about that:

For this reason, ChatGPT’s received a fair bit of bad hype, and people seem confused about whether to accept, ignore, or vehemently reject it… It’s unclear that they know what to do about it.

WIth that in mind, it’s been fascinating to watch the different adaptation strategies of countries to the perceived challenge that ChatGPT has brought to the education system as well.

On one hand, some countries have responded with a strategy of mitigation. The state of New York banned ChatGPT (although how they could enforce it is questionable, considering that it’s possible to use ChatGPT on a home device), Australian universities have reverted to pen and paper exams.

That’s not all too surprising, especially since ChatGPT can definitely be used to cheat. It can write essays in mere seconds, craft grammatically well-structured summaries, and organize information to a dashingly effective degree. The craze has begun for AI writing detectors such as Edward Tian’s GPTZero that have yet to successfully and consistently identify AI generated text with a sufficient degree of accuracy to prevent false accusations: They are generally not very good yet, and an arms race is taking place between these detectors and AI text generators as we speak.

But mitigation is not the only strategy – and in an age where technology moves forward whether we like it or not, it seems to me only magical that is the approach we should pray for is one of adaptation. I believe that this is reflected in the strategy of Singapore, which has moved away from mitigation and more to adaptation, with specific allowances to learn how to ‘properly’ use tools such as ChatGPT.

Link: https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/politics/students-teachers-will-learn-to-properly-use-tools-like-chatgpt-chan-chun-sing

More about this in my next post!

With that said, if you’re a student, how can ChatGPT save your grades and help you have an easier school life without potentially putting you on the line for an F grade for plagiarism, or on review by a disciplinary committee?

Well, even if you don’t cheat with it, ChatGPT is an incredible tool that will help you move forward with your education in leaps and bounds.

Let me show you how!

ChatGPT can help you ace your studies by helping you to…

  1. Provide explanations and examples:

Struggling with homework? ChatGPT can provide explanations and examples for various concepts, making it a great resource for completing those pesky assignments.

The reason that this is really helpful is that it helps you to contextualize the things that you’re learning rather than leaving them just as words, and to appreciate the connections between concepts and practicalities in a much more concrete way than you would otherwise experience if you were to just hear what the teacher is saying but not absorb it.

Let’s first start with a (very recent) historical example:

As you can see, the example here was well summarized, relatively balanced, and provides relatively factual information about what had happened albeit the matter remains controversial.

Next, here’s an example that might appeal to you future computer scientists, involving a cryptographic concept that I needed to brush up on:

Now that seems rather complicated, so let’s simplify it a bit.

That’s a bit better! You can do this with all sorts of things, so give it a try and see what you can do!

2. Help you to learn new things.

Want to learn more about a new subject? ChatGPT can provide a comprehensive overview, making it an excellent resource for expanding your knowledge.

Also, because it is conversational, you can directly ask ChatGPT to explain certain things that it has raised in previous conversations, which will allow you to naturally understand the context of what you’ve learned about and even expand your learning in these areas.

Here’s an example, featuring the English language 🙂

As you can see, I just had a conversation with ChatGPT, during which I learned a bit about verbs — ChatGPT was able to understand my requests for clarification and, when I asked for assistance in natural language, was able to extend my knowledge by providing me with even more information that I could in turn follow up on.

This is something that I would have found rather difficult to do with Google, as Google would have required me to make sense of the data that I find through the different links that I locate, and additionally impose more time costs on me in the form of time dedicated towards navigation — it is possible to learn and rather efficiently of course, but I would have to give ChatGPT the win in terms of ease of understanding and use here and hope that it shows you how efficiently you can learn with ChatGPT.

That being said, since it can help you learn, it’s only natural that ChatGPT can…

3. Help you to research things

Researching a paper or article? ChatGPT can generate summaries so you can get up to speed quickly and easily, which also means that you’ll be able to use it efficiently in connection with other tools such as search engines like Google in order to effectively research your tasks and plan out the things that you’d like to write for those otherwise arduous and pesky research essays.

Here’s an example, featuring the Napoleonic Wars:

But speaking of the Napoleonic Wars…

4. Providing practice questions:

Need to prepare for an exam? ChatGPT can generate practice questions and provide in-depth explanations for the answers.

Let’s get back to the Napoleonic Wars example for a bit, and you’ll see what I mean.

As you can see, this is tremendously powerful — it is something that you can do with any historical concept or idea, and if you try it out, you’ll understand the sheer power of what it can provide even if you don’t cheat with it.

5. Writing essays:

This is probably the most controversial matter of all, because there is the highest potential for cheating with ChatGPT here.

Still, ChatGPT can generate outlines, intro paragraphs, and body paragraphs, saving you time and effort in the process, by giving you a great starting point to begin your essay.

As you can see, ChatGPT can actually also write the essay for you.

The problem is, this works very well with factual essays, and if you do submit this as it is, it will definitely amount as cheating.

That said, there’s no harm in using AI to give you a sense of how to generate paragraphs, which in turn you can rewrite — I would observe, though, that the types of essays that you can generate well are many, and you can actually change the style of these essays in such a way that you may replicate the writing style of anyone with a significant body of work.

In order to use ChatGPT to improve your writing without cheating, you would have to have a sense of distinct voice and personality and also be able to add in some things to the essay that ChatGPT cannot actually execute on — that is especially relevant with things such as the college essay (I show this in my recent video, in which I wrote every single one of UChicago’s 2022–2023 essay prompts.)

For everything else, however, ChatGPT is generally capable of creating some pretty high quality output and proposing some pretty good essay structures, which can easily create the temptation to use that output vanilla — in other words, to cheat by having an algorithm do the work that you were assigned to do — when in reality, students would benefit more if they integrated their approach by not just relying on the outlines that they receive from this software, but instead also refining their thinking with the insights that arise from it.


As you can see, ChatGPT is tremendously powerful for learning, and it can be used in many ways to help you learn information at a rate that is far greater than that which you might have if you were simply to make use of textbooks or Google to proceed through the slog of learning in a (relatively) unstructured way.

I’d like to concede, as a matter of fact, this post was actually partly generated by AI — but the reason I say partly is that I edited it pretty heavily after making use of the initial framework that it had created in order to elaborate on the different examples and to participate in actually using the software in order to demonstrate what it could do while taking screenshots — something that the AI is incapable of doing at this point in time.

At the same time, though, I must acknowledge that as a language model, ChatGPT is tremendously competent at compiling together summaries, outlines, research, and even writing essays for its users in ways that naturally make it rather tempting for students to cheat with ChatGPT, for the simple reason that it is incredibly easy to do so in lieu of learning with it.


To conclude, I hope that you have enjoyed seeing some of the cool things that you can do with ChatGPT to extend your learning and the things that you can do with it, and that you will make use of it well to improve your life and knowledge.

That said, there is incredible potential within the ChatGPT technology and with AI at large to extend the capability of the human race, but there is equal potential to destroy it, subjugating our innate mental capacities and spirits to the idle temptations of creating and submitting a plagiarized AI essay for an A at the 11th hour and never actually doing the work.

Although cheating of this nature can seem harmless, my innocent musings lead me to wonder if cheating serves as a demonstration of how AI can essentially perform many of the tasks that human beings can do, and how some human beings will merely let them — thereby never ascending beyond their current level and merely allowing technology to resolve their problems either without asserting initiative or abiding poor planning and excuse-making in a realm where the tremendously sophisticated tools now available to us make such excuses effectively invalid.

Which is why, to me, AI seems to offer us two paths in the modern age, which in reality may well be the same path: that which leads to an era of greater learning and extension of our mental capabilities, or that which leads to our treating it merely as a tool to achieve our desired ends, thereby weakening ourselves in the process.

If you are a student, I would say this:

As human beings, I firmly believe we need to be able to double down, accepting what AI can do, and locating the gaps in between which we can find ourselves and locate the possibilities in which we are able to add value — a matter in which it is absolutely necessary to continue to develop ourselves by learning well, thinking critically, and making key decisions in terms of how to develop ourselves as the pace of technological innovation accelerates, and algorithms such as those that power ChatGPT only become increasingly advanced.

Even if there are solutions out there that enable you to pass off AI-generated essays as your own, do consider what you can do if you choose to let AI extend you rather than simply letting it be that which you owe credit to in the course of your academic career and by extension completely replace you in the thinking process; if you accept that without questioning it, fighting it, and growing rather than being subsumed by the tide that underpins it, then I guess you’d understand in that world, then, why I would think that while I feel that robots may not completely replace humans at large, the robots may at least replace you… Unless you let it reinforce your mind, rather than replace it.

As always, I wish for your best as a reader of this blog and as a fellow human being – thank you for reading, and we’ll talk more about the ways that AI can help education as a whole in the next post!

The Difference between AI Writing and Human Writing (A Demonstration with IGCSE English)

Now, there’s been a ton of drama recently about AI-driven writing. Influencer after influencer tells you that you can write blog posts and marketing copy and earn infinite amounts of money, telling you that lo and behold, the rapture is here and your AI overlords will now take you to an infinite space of profound wealth!

…But is it true though?

Totally reasonable to believe (because enough people are easily over-hyped and frankly, even if you don’t think you are subject to hype, you probably are)… But in my opinion inaccurate.

It’s true that AI can generate a lot of different articles and types of materials very, very quickly. That’s the whole idea behind my online course. (Welcome to this site if you’ve just found it, students!)

If you think that AI writing is going to replace human writing entirely though, I have an unfortunate truth for you though:

You’re probably not a very good writer.

Sorry to say that, but it’s probably true and that’s absolutely what I believe.

As I said in the previous post, I’m entirely prepared to eat my own words at a later point when our AI overlords become sufficiently advanced that they catch me in a prison of some sort or full-on write novels with incredible twists and planning with no prompting other than “Please write me a novel that will get to the New York Times Bestseller list and grant me a lifetime of drinking pina coladas in Uruguay”, but uh… I’m not convinced that that point is now.

That’s why in this post, we’re going to compare the process of writing an IGCSE English essay from two different perspectives: AI, and from a human perspective.

First of all though, some context:

I teach IGCSE English essay classes (and also IB English x Theory of Knowledge, A Levels, and IELTS classes) as part of my work with Ascendant Academy, and it’s a joy of a subject to teach because it unites two of my dearest passions – education and writing – into a single learning experience that I find tremendously valuable.

Second of all, here’s the context: This is a question from the Winter 2019 Question Paper 3 IGCSE English Language 0500 exam, and I was providing a live-writing exercise with one of my students, whereby I generated an essay in about 20 minutes without stopping (I might screen record one of these if I get permission one day).

Let’s start.

First of all, let’s talk about how I tried to do this with AI, specifically by logging in to ChatGPT with my OpenAI account and trying to get the universe’s favorite chatbot to give me what I wanted.

First, I tried to do this vanilla.

That was too short, so I figured that I should give ChatGPT a bit more context.

…Well, clearly that didn’t work. It gave me… A movie review?! It was time for more prompt engineering.

Okay, now we were getting somewhere.

The issue with this though, was that it was giving me a movie review and this was not something that I was vibing with, so I had to make some other adjustments. The result? I did a little bit more prompting based on the discussion that we had during the course of the lesson, during which I decided to write the essay about the experience of an unnamed scuba diver and his friend Jessica as they discovered a ship.

Here was the result:

Okay, this wasn’t bad!

…Did it mean that it was good, though? I wanted to know, so in the grand finale, I asked the AI for one final thing – to convert the entire thing into the same perspective that I used during my live-writing.

Here’s the result.

2 (a) Write a description with the title, ‘Underwater’. – Written by ChatGPT.


[Prompt]: Do that again, but this time write the description in first person perspective.

My Journey to Discover the Sunken Ship “The Indomitable”

As I descended into the depths of the ocean with my friend Jessica, I was transported to a world of stunning beauty and mystery. Schools of colorful fish swam by, while larger creatures glided gracefully through the water. However, the real treasure of our dive lay ahead – the sunken ship, “The Indomitable.”

The experience of diving into the underwater world was both exhilarating and surreal. With every passing moment, the world above grew more distant, and the world below came into sharper focus. The water shimmered, creating an ethereal aura, and the pressure change added to the sense of adventure.

As we approached the ship, our excitement grew. We were about to uncover the secrets of “The Indomitable,” a ship that had been lost for many years. The ship’s remains were covered in a layer of sea creatures and marine plants, creating a unique and beautiful sight. We explored the ship’s interior, discovering artifacts and uncovering the story of its final voyage.

However, our dive was not without its challenges. Visibility was limited, and we had to navigate through the tight and dark spaces of the ship with care. The danger of the unknown added to the thrill of the experience, but it also required us to be cautious and aware of our surroundings at all times.

In the end, our dive was a success. Jessica and I returned to the surface, exhilarated by our adventure and with a newfound appreciation for the underwater world. We left “The Indomitable” with memories that will last a lifetime, and with a newfound respect for the power and beauty of the ocean.

In conclusion, exploring the underwater world is a journey of discovery and adventure. Whether you are a seasoned diver or a newcomer, the experience of discovering a sunken ship like “The Indomitable” is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. So, grab your gear and dive into the unknown, and uncover the secrets that lie beneath the surface of the water.

2 (a) Write a description with the title, ‘Underwater’. – Written by Victor Tan.



The sound of Jessica falling into the water is a little less loud than I had imagined, considering that she was wearing a 30kg scuba tank and full waterproof gear. After a minute of trying to calm myself and failing, I join her in the water, falling in ungracefully with my fins over my head, eyes closed, feeling the cold rush of water: I am now underwater.

At first, I can see nothing, but it takes just a brief moment for my vision to resolve as I witness a side of the world that I had only seen in novels and Netflix shows. The water is a clear and pristine blue, almost like the color of sapphires polished to a brilliant gleam, and inside it I see an entire community – colorful fish swim and dance in complex arrangements, moving as if they are acrobats in the Cirque du Soleil around my awkward movements, as I try to adjust myself in a space that my body has precious few adaptations towards.

Below me, craggy gray rocks stretch out a canvas that extends into a deep and blue horizon down below, and as I move through the waters, I see that ahead of me, there is a darkness below – it is much deeper than I had imagined, and as I am thinking of what it would be like to visit, I feel a shaking on my left arm; it is Jessica signaling to me. 

She waves her arm in the water, pointing downwards, as bubbles stream through her mask and she begins to swim. Realizing that I will be left behind unless I follow suit, I quickly begin moving along with her as we course through the water, navigating this strange and beautiful underwater paradise together.

As we swim through the waters, the fish seem to either be celebrating our journey or mocking us, dancing around us at a speed that I could barely fathom; just before I finish my thought about how people can actually catch these creatures for a living, though, I see the sea turtle resting just above the pink coral formation that rests just at the base of one of the rocks, and as it moves away, perhaps having detected us, there I see the entirety of the coral formation – gigantic, almost as if it is a tremendous, crystalline tree that has ascended from the bottom of the sea floor.

We begin to move through it as we descend deeper, flashing our submersion-grade torchlights into the sea as the light bounces off the corals, subtly illuminating them in shades of pink as we make our journey even deeper as we pass by even more fish, abalone, and other strange creatures that I remind myself to read about in a Buzzfeed article when I get back to the surface. 

Just then, however, a clearing appears in the coral, and I bump into Jessica, who has stopped abruptly and turns to me with an excited expression through her mask. 

When I look where she is pointing, I see the ship.

It is grand, it is imposing, it is far larger than I ever imagined that a ship could be – a gigantic, hulking mass of rotting wood that sticks out of the rocky crevasse that it lies above, like a massive nail in the middle of a woodboard. As I look closer, I see the tattered sail flashing the remnants of a name for the ship:

“e Indomita…”

I guess that this ship was called “The Indomitable” at some point, but it certainly doesn’t look that way now, as seaweed seems to surround and entangle it, almost as if trying to reclaim one of the ocean’s wayward children back into her eternal embrace, mocking the name that the ship was called. 

Perhaps there is treasure here?

…Says my instinct, and it’s clear even in this world where words do not exist that Jessica shares this viewpoint.

Without needing to explain ourselves, we go deeper into the water, as we begin to explore the magnificent underwater wreckage.

And there we are!

That’s a comparison between AI writing and human-led writing.

Let’s look at what happened:

Initial output:

It’s clear to see that the initial output that was generated was relatively short and it also didn’t fit what we wanted – we had to adapt our strategy and therefore the problems that we use in order to get something that match a particular creative vision.

Still, the AI-written essay took a few promptings and took a very short while (10 minutes of prompting to get the result I described), while the essay I wrote took about 20 minutes to complete. Obviously they’re not directly comparable because the structuring is different, there are different turns of logic, different effects, and they have a different word count altogether.

I think it is clear that the AI generated output isn’t bad and if we think about what we took to get there, it’s certainly faster than writing things by hand, even considering my relatively quick writing speed – at the same time though, creating it does require some creative input and a sense of what you’d like to do, which means having a sense of story, development, and an overall creative vision that you like to implement through the AI, which isn’t something that you can get just from randomly prompting; that’s why I always observe (and those of you who have taken my online course may know this) that there is a strong element of what we call garbage in, garbage out.

If you have no idea what you want in the first place, there is no way that an AI, no matter how advanced, is going to be able to provide you with a meaningfully high-quality output; it’s very important to get a sense of what you want before you can let AI take the reins in any way!)

I would note from my own self evaluation though that there were certain executive decisions that I made during the writing process that made it so I could change up the imagery, and also know that there was a definite story that I wanted to tell through the essay, which in turn fed into the particular prompting strategy which I fed into ChatGPT.

I’ll note that if you were someone who wanted to create a piece of written work that fits your own individual specifications, it may also be faster to do so via the human route, particularly if you want to tailor things on the fly, improvise, or otherwise create certain things.

Of course, there’s a skill barrier that’s involved in this – if you don’t have the requisite mastery of language, grammar, logic, scenery, pacing, etcetera, you may find it a little more difficult to create as you wish when in your mind, it is difficult to express something of which you have no concept; language mastery influences your thoughts influences the pattern of the things that you can conceive of influences the actions that you take and the way you express yourself – therein lies the value of mastering language as a human, I think. (Not that I have mastered it entirely!)

Still, let’s not deny the value of AI. AI’s wonderful for conceptualizing ideas (and I definitely used ChatGPT while I was writing The Little Robot That Could Paint!), breaking through writer’s block, thinking through certain difficult concepts, and even revising your work, and it’s definitely here to stay. As you move forward though, I definitely encourage you to look at the opportunity that chatGPT he is giving to you not as something that will replace your mind and your decision-making, but instead something to accentuate it by helping you to much more rapidly at the rate, create, and test out ideas that time constraints may have made impractical for you in the past, thereby dramatically expanding the space of possibilities which you can meaningfully consider in your writing and in your work.

What did you think about this? I’ll let you come to your own conclusions. Do leave a comment if you wish to start a spirited discussion (does anyone even leave comments on blogs anymore?) or if you found this valuable 🙂

Thanks a ton!