Update 7 January 2024: We are excited to announce that Journey has successfully integrated GPT chat into its journal. This innovative feature enhances the user experience by providing seamless and interactive conversations within the app. For more information, click here to explore the latest enhancements.

Journaling has always been my space of solace. It is my pocket of peace which I turn to in times of need. I find writing to be therapeutic and calming, and I appreciate that I can turn to it at my own time and pace. While I do enjoy having heart-to-heart conversations with my confidants from time to time as well, I like to seek clarity myself first, and journaling allows me to make sense of some of the more nuanced and complicated feelings I experience on my own.

Photo by Kateryna Hliznitsova / Unsplash

Inner-Child Chatbox On OpenAI GPT-3 Playground

I had recently come across an article on Insider, where Michelle Huang, an artist and scientist from New York, had used OpenAI GPT-3 Playground to create an inner child chatbot as an experiment. She input about 40 journal entries that she created between the ages of 7 to 18, and had an interaction with her child self. She described it to have felt like she was texting her former self in real time, and she explained that it had helped her get closure on her past.

This immediately sparked interest in me. What about being able to have a conversation with your past self does not seem alluring? I was curious to find out for myself how this could possibly happen with the help of A.I.

What Is GPT-3?

GPT-3, developed by OpenAI.
GPT-3, developed by OpenAI.

GPT-3 is one of many fast-developing AI technology that has gained traction in recent times after being introduced into writing and content creation. It is an A.I. interface that uses deep learning to produce human-like text. When fed with data or prompts, this technology will produce content that continues the prompts or content that is related to the prompts.

What sets this newly developed technology apart from other such technology is that it has the ability to create content that has a language structure – human or machine language – better than anything that has come before it.

It has also displayed the ability to write applications, create various types of content, write emails or blogs, and even hold a conversation with a person. It can also perform other tasks such as writing news articles when fed a title, translating languages, answering a variety of questions and solve trivial puzzles, or having conversations.

Using Journey to connect with my past self

I have kept journal entries on Journey for the past year or so. Even though I don't write consistently, it is a habit that I am working towards developing and maintaining for the coming year. However, I do make it a point to pen my feelings or thoughts whenever they occur to me; in the mornings when I wake up, or right before I head to bed.

Journey is a cross platform journaling app.
Journey is a cross platform journaling app.

I have written about what I aspire to be, my fears, how my days unfolded, and other ruminations that I have had. While they were not not always full-length journal entries and could sometimes be shorter in length, I did write abundantly.

Man On Arrow
Photo by Smart / Unsplash

Just as Michelle had done, I used GPT-3 as my playground, and took extracts and some whole entries from different journal entries from Journey that I felt were representative of my state of mind and the nature of my reflections from across the past year.

As per Michelle's instructions, I fed the A.I. chatbot with information from my journal entries, and engaged in a real-time conversation, or a question-answer session, with my past self.

This encompassed of a simple copy and paste from my journal entries on Journey into Chat GPT-3 playground.

The Chat GPT-3 playground in which you can input your journal entries and data.
The Chat GPT-3 playground in which you can input your journal entries and data.

To maneuver the Chat GPT-3 playground:

  1. Gather some source material to input into the Chat GPT-3 playground. Transfer your diary entries from Journey easily with a simple copy and paste from however many entries you would like to use.
  2. After gathering your material, head to the GPT-3 playground at https://beta.openai.com/playground/. This is where you can add your material, prompts, and diary entries, and set the raining parameters for your model.
  3. After this, you can start prompt-crafting in the playground. I used these specific prompts to train on diary entries: Past [Name] and Present [Name]. You can also feed the chatbot with data about the tone, sentiment, or attitude in which you want your past or child self to respond to you in by stating "young [your name] is loving, gentle, and very friendly".
  4. Add parameters to your chatbot. Set the model to "text-davinci-003", the temperature to "1" to minimize repetitiveness or randomness, and adjust the Frequency and Presence settings to your needs.
  5. Remember to pick specific entries that represent you the best and you feel are the most poignant for you. The better your data or entries represent your attitude and values, the more accurate the A.I. processing would be.
  6. Click the submit button, and you should be able to have a conversation with your past or younger self.
Add parameters to your chatbot with the settings on the right-hand side.
Add parameters to your chatbot with the settings on the right-hand side.

With these entries and excerpts, I could simulate what it would have been like to talk to my past self, based on real data sources from the past year, instead of trying to imagine my past self and how she would have responded to or reacted to questions and situations.

After transferring some of my journal entries and feeding them into the model, I asked myself a couple of questions to better understand my past headspace. I constructed a few questions and asked them on the chatbot, and I got answers from "past" Shruthi about about her worldview. It was as if I was texting my past self in real time; just like how Michelle had described her interaction with her child self like as she was "reaching through a time portal, disguised as a chatbox".

Interacting With My Past Self with GPT-3 Chat bot

The following is the conversation, both the questions that I posed and the answers that were generated, between Present Shruthi (age 26) and Past Shruthi (age 24 to 25) that was generated on the chatbot from the journal entries and excerpts that I extracted from Journey and input in the playground:

The following is a conversation with Present [Name] (age X) and Young [Name] (age Y)

Young [Name] has written the following journal entries:
1. XXX
2. XXX
3. XXX

Present [Name]: Type and ask a question.
The answers that were generated by the chatbot from the questions that were posed.
The answers that were generated by the chatbot from the questions that were posed.

Present Shruthi: What was my biggest fear when I was younger?

Past Shruthi: My biggest fear when I was younger was that I wouldn't find my purpose in life or that I wouldn't be able to accomplish the things I wanted.

Present Shruthi: What would have made me the most fulfilled?

Past Shruthi: Being intentional with your words and actions, doing what you were passionate about, taking consistent steps towards accomplishing your goals, and having faith in yourself would have made you the most fulfilled.

Present Shruthi: What was my biggest motivation?

Past Shruthi: Your biggest motivator was being able to reach your goals and being proud of your accomplishments. Knowing that you worked hard and achieved success was a huge motivating factor for you.

Present Shruthi: What are 3 lessons I can take away from my younger reflections?

Past Shruthi: 1. Embrace discomfort and use it to reach your goals in a constructive way. 2. Believe in yourself and keep pushing towards success. 3. Be intentional with your words and actions and strive for purpose in all that you do.

Present Shruthi: What kind of person did I aspire to be?

Past Shruthi: You aspired to be a person of excellence and integrity. You wanted to be somebody who works hard and practices consistently to reach their goals, always striving for greatness and never settling for anything less.

Present Shruthi: What would have been my biggest strength?

Past Shruthi: Your biggest strength would have been your resilience and drive-- your refusal to give up in spite of adversity, and your relentless pursuit of success.

Present Shruthi: What would have been my biggest weakness?

Past Shruthi: Your biggest weakness would have been your tendency to get overwhelmed and overthink things. You sometimes struggled to stay focused on achieving your goals when you were feeling overwhelmed and this could lead to doubt and self-sabotage.

This conversation, to my surprise, felt familiar and similar to a regular text conversation. It was as if I was texting my past self in real time.

Michelle had also expressed that she has prompted the chatbot to write me her letter into the present day. She said that they letter "from" her past self said that she was proud of her and the person she's become.

What did I learn from my past self in the chat bot?

After trying this for myself, I was able to relate to Michelle's takeaway from this experiment from the answers she got from the metaphorical question of "would your eight-year old self be proud?": "I'm proud of you" in the letter that was generated. The answers she got from the questions she posed had a healing effect on her.

Photo by Nicola Fioravanti / Unsplash

Similarly, my interaction had also made clear the healing potential of this medium. I was able send love back into the past, as well as receive love back from my past self and find closure and self-assurance.

Being able to converse with my past self was a stark reminder of how much I have changed in the course of one year, and it also reminded me of what has stayed constant. It was earnest and personal way to get in touch my inner-workings and emotions.

What I hope to see in the future

Together with being able to track how much I have changed across the past year and also at what has stayed constant for me, I hope to see myself being able to look back at more memories with the help of this tool.

Photo by Drew Beamer / Unsplash

On Journey, the photos, videos, and voice recordings that I have archived enable me to look back at my favorite memories fondly. With this data, I see Chat GPT-3 consolidating and resurfacing these memories for me as well. Without the need to manually comb through my journal entries, I would be able to ask my past self to recollect these memories and surface them with specifically curated questions for me instead. For instance, when prompted with "What were the 3 happiest moments of mine from 2022?", the chatbot would recollect and consolidate these memories for me and allow me to look back at them.

The emotional process of talking to my younger self, together with the journaling I have been doing on Journey, have been revelatory. Both mediums combined have brought about some healing for me, and the potential of how much more it could help me come to terms with my sense of being excites me.