Repackaging knowledge

I’ve been noticing a particular strong point in my use of LLMs: repackaging knowledge.

I’ll use a specific example here from my work at Macro Oceans: I need to understand the research around specific polysaccharides that can be extracted from seaweeds 1) so I can sell them and 2) so I can do further product development with them. To do this, I do a pretty basic lit review. I get a lot of help from GPT in this stage understanding things that are beyond the chemistry and/or biology that I took. But I actually need to distill this into something I understand and have an intuition for, so it's pretty essential for me to take the times to put this into my own words.

At the end of this process, I’ve effectively got a 1 page memo that explains how the polysaccharides work and what their benefits are. From there, I need to turn this into: * 2 slides for the team meeting to help teach internally * 4-5 slides for a sales training deck * a blog post for content marketing purposes * a paragraph to a specific customer for a deal where it's relevant

This is where I think the LLM really shines. The context is set and hallucinations are rare. Perhaps more important, I understand the content well enough to catch things that aren’t quite right. The important part is mutating the form. In tasks like this, I’m frequently able to cut half the time more out of the work compared to what it would take me starting from a blank page.

An implication of this is that the value of proofreading and comprehension as a skill is shooting up tremendously. I’ve always been impressed with the ability of some of the senior executives I’ve worked with to read a memo or a slide deck and immediately pick out the critical issues at hand (Neal Mohan, CEO of YouTube, is fantastic at this). The difference between an average manager and the top ones on this dimension is startling. The average managers fall into nodding along but the really top tier people are engaging with and testing the material they’re being given.

I think this comprehension skill is going to play the role in the next two decades that being a strong writer played in the previous two. Of course these two skills are closely related, but as more people move into a role where they’re reacting to more text than they’re creating, it will become even more important.