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The Importance of Note-Taking in the AI Era

Published: at 15:05


As artificial intelligence continues to advance, taking notes remains important.

Some argue that since the release of GPT-4, we have entered a whole new era of AI where taking notes and building a second brain has become unimportant. However, I am skeptical of this view and even believe that taking notes is more important than ever in the age of AI.

While AI tools are incredibly powerful, they are still just tools. For example, as useful as ChatGPT, Notion AI, New Bing, ChatPDF and other AI tools I’ve used are becoming, the time I spend gathering information has greatly reduced. This means I have more time for inner reflection, shifting my attention from recording common information to thinking deeply about my ideas and making sense of data.

This excites me as much as it scares me - excited that I can use this chance to further tap into my potential and become even stronger than before; scared that I may become as dependent on AI as I am on my smartphone.

However, the more I use ChatGPT-like tools, the more I realize that no matter how AI develops, domain expertise is still extremely important. Because AI tools may lower the barrier to entry but also raise the ceiling. The more domain knowledge I have, the more I can leverage AI tools, ask better questions of them, and benefit.

Clearly, taking notes helps us gain domain knowledge. At the same time, notes are also the bridge in the AI age through which we encode our knowledge into digital form. (At least for now, as tech develops so quickly I can’t imagine if brain-computer interfaces might soon handle this step.)

Before AI tools can help us, we first need to feed them the right information, and only we ourselves can provide our tools with what we see of the world to get what we want back.

AI may reduce our need for traditional note taking, but capturing our thoughts and insights remains critical. Recording personal thoughts and ideas simply isn’t something AI can do for us.

Likewise, while AI may excel in certain domains, human intuition, creativity, and moral judgement remain irreplaceable. For example, in healthcare, AI can help doctors diagnose conditions and develop treatment plans, but human judgment is still essential for final decision making.

Striking a balance between AI efficiency and maintaining cognitive ability is thus crucial. Taking notes promotes critical thinking and self-awareness, keeping our minds continually sharp.

This is why I believe taking notes remains extremely important, if not more so, even in an age of AI.

We need to embrace the power of our thoughts, insights, and creativity. Note taking helps us record, deepen understanding, organize thinking, and promote creative and innovative thought. As AI develops, we need to emphasize even more the skills of writing and thinking, which is also an investment in ourselves.

Ultimately, AI is a tool humans created to develop and liberate productive forces, just as hammers and chisels are more valuable in the hands of skilled craftsmen. How we use AI depends on us.