Top AI Tools to Know About

Words by
Jackie Baucom

MAY 24, 2024

Top AI Tools to Know About

I recall spending hours glued to the TV, eagerly awaiting my favorite music videos on The Box. Requesting songs over the phone was thrilling — would my call be answered? Would my song be played? Would my parents notice the fee on the phone bill?

Aeromith’s, “There’s a Hole in My Soul,” was a standout with its intriguing storyline. The video’s plot, featuring a lonely high schooler who uses futuristic tech to clone and create beautiful girlfriends, was captivating and far-fetched — yet technology today offers similar innovations. 

While we may not be cloning people, Artificial Intelligence (AI) tools now enhance various aspects of our lives, from communication to entertainment.

Understanding these tools is essential for parenting navigating the digital world with their children.

The rapid evolution and widespread adoption of AI bring both benefits and potential risks that parents should be aware of.

AI startups are the hottest tech boom in recent history so, unsurprisingly, there are already a lot of tools out there. To help you sort through the chaos, we’ve listed out some of the top AI tools that parents need to know about, including a product description, how they work, and the associated dangers.

We’ve broken them into a few categories (although the lines are often a little blurry between them) to simplify things:

Large Language Models and Chatbots

Large language models (LLM) are AI systems that use machine learning, meaning they have been trained using vast amounts of text data and continue to learn as they’re used. The aim of an LLM is to comprehend and generate plausible, human language. 

chat boxes

Think of it as predictive texting — if you start a sentence with “I like to play _,” a language model might predict that the next word is “guitar” or “soccer,” based on the content and the data it was trained on.

But LLMs today are already capable of doing far more than finishing the last word in a sentence — leading LLMs can produce articles, song lyrics, poetry, and more from simple prompts in a matter of seconds.

A chatbot is a computer program that simulates human conversation to respond to customer questions. Chatbots use language models to understand and reply to messages in a conversation. 

ChatGPT

ChatGPT is a conversational AI, capable of engaging in natural language processing on a wide range of topics. It can answer questions, provide explanations, offer suggestions, and more. 

  • Created by OpenAI.
  • GPT-3.5 is free to use, but its training data only goes up until January 2022.
  • GPT-4 plans start at $10 per month, depending on usage. This version has been trained on current data.
  • GPT-4o was announced in May 2024 and offers improvements to both the free and paid versions, including multimodal (images, videos, audio) capabilities.

Gemini 

Gemini (formerly Bard), is a multimodal model, which means it can process not only text but also images, videos, and audio. Gemini is an AI writing tool that can create essays, respond to questions, write code, solve equations, and even explain scientific concepts.

It can be used with other Google apps, such as providing real time information from Google Maps, and connecting to Google Workspace.

  • Created by Google.
  • Gemini has a free version for everyday needs, and a monthly plan for complex tasks starting at $19.99.

Claude 

Claude is a chatbot designed to generate text content and engage in conversations using human-like responses. Claude can help understand and analyze text, answer questions about current events and topics, help with coding, and can integrate with Slack.

  • Created by Anthropic.
  • Claude offers free, limited access, or the option to choose between different tiers of pricing plans starting at $20 per month. 

Perplexity AI 

Perplexity AI is a search engine that can scan through millions of text documents, such as websites, articles, and blog posts, to find the best information to answer a question. With each response, citations and sources are included to facilitate further research.

  • Created by engineers Aravind Srinivas, Denis Yarats, Johnny Ho, and Andy Konwinski. 
  • Perplexity AI has a free version, as well as a paid monthly membership for $20.

Copilot 

Copilot (formerly Bing Chat) is an AI assistant. It can respond to questions with helpful information, generative text, and draw pictures based on prompts, and write code.

  • Created by Microsoft.
  • Copilot’s base version is free, and advanced subscriptions start at $20 per month.

ChatSonic 

Chatsonic is capable of performing real-time Google web searches and providing up-to-date responses. Users can drag and drop documents or links into ChatSonic (such as web pages, PDFs, and Word documents) for quick summaries and insights. It can also analyze image uploads and generate content based on visual cues.

  • Created by Writesonic.
  • ChatSonic offers a free trial for up to 10,000 words per month, or paid tiers starting at $19.

Socratic 

Socratic is an AI-powered homework helper app that provides step-by-step explanations for various subjects, such as math, science, and literature.

  • Created by Chris Pedregal and Shreyans Bhansali. Acquired by Google.
  • The app is free to download and use.

HuggingChat 

HuggingChat is an open-source language model, meaning the code is accessible to the public and can be improved and modified by users.

This AI allows users to chat with various AI models created by others, perform real-time web searches, ask follow-up questions, create images from text text, and drag and drop documents or links for quick summaries and insights. 

  • Created by Hugging Face.
  • HuggingChat is free to use.

Creative AI

Creative AI refers to generative AI that can generate artwork, write stories, design products, and even come up with new solutions to problems by drawing on large datasets or learning from existing examples. 

Creative AI tools, in particular, are popping up left and right. Below are just a few of the ones getting a lot of attention right now.

DALL-E 

DALL-E is an AI image generator capable of creating images from text prompts.

  • Created by OpenAI.
  • Dall-E offers a limited amount of free credits per month. Additional credits can be purchased starting at $15. The credits required per image depend on many factors, such as complexity and resolution.

Firefly 

Firefly is a suite of generative AI tools. It can create image generation from text descriptions, transform text, play with color, and more. This tool allows users to add, remove, expand content, create lifelike images from scratch, and more. 

  • Created by Adobe.
  • Firefly has a free version with a limited number of monthly credits. Paid tiers start at $4.99 per month.

Suno 

Suno is a music creation program where users can generate original songs that combine vocals and instruments. 

  • Created by Michael Shulman, Georg Kucsko, Martin Camacho, and Keenan Freyberg.
  • A free version allows users to try it out by creating two songs. Suno offers paid tiers that start at $9.99 per month.

Virtual Companions

Companion AIs are created to provide assistance, support, and companionship (friendly or romantic). These AIs can engage in conversation, adapt their behavior to the user’s preference, and even provide a sense of connection for individuals who may feel lonely.

Critics argue that AI can’t replace real human connection will proponents argue that some connection is better than nothing or that AI connection might potentially be just as healthy. Although the basic idea has been the subject of science fiction books, shows, and movies for decades, it is just recently that technology has advanced sufficiently for digital companions to provide as a passable replacement for real human conversation. It’s too early to say definitely, in other words, so this is one area of AI that parents would be wise to keep an eye on.

Character AI 

Character AI encompasses a range of tools that create virtual characters with varying degrees of autonomy and intelligence. These characters can exhibit behaviors, emotions, and dialogue that mimics humans. Users can chat with these characters, or have the characters talk to each other.

  • Created by former Google developers, Noam Shazeer and Daniel De Freitas.
  • Users can sign up for free with limited features or enjoy a premium plan for $9.99/mo.

Replika 

Replika is a personalized AI companion designed to provide emotional and empathetic support (yes, just like Ron in “Ron’s Gone Wrong”). The more a user interacts with their AI friend, the more it develops its own personality.

  • Created by Y Combinator alumna, Eugenia Kuyda.
  • Replika has a free version, and different memberships starting at $19.99 a month.

Anima 

Anima is an AI-powered virtual companion designed to simulate romantic interactions and provide emotional support. 

  • Created by Maksim Abramchuk and Danil Gontovnik.
  • Anima has a free version, and paid tiers starting at $12.56 per month.

Digi 

Digi AI is a romantic AI companion capable of having deep conversations or flirty banter. Users can customize their experience by choosing from various cartoon avatars, voices, and personalities. 

  • Created by Andrew Young and John Rooney.
  • Digi AI offers both free and premium subscriptions, priced at $12 per month.

Nomi 

Nomi is a companion chatbot capable of carrying out conversations as a friend, partner, or mentor. The AI grows and evolves with each interaction, and is customizable. Nomi also creates humanlike avatars, and sends sporadic pictures to the user, just as a real-life friend would.

  • Created by Alex Cardinell, and owned by Glimpse.ai.
  • Nomi offers a free trial, and monthly subscriptions start at $15.99 per month.

AI for Business

These systems are designed to address various business needs and objectives. They are often tailored to improve efficiency, productivity, and innovation within organizations.

red graph line on beige background

While the cost of most business tools makes it less likely kids will find their way to these options, some offer free trials that kids could take advantage of to temporarily use.

Jasper 

Designed specifically to assist marketing teams in AI content creation, plan a whole campaign (like emails, ads, and social media posts), and even give tips on how to improve current content.

  • Created by Y Combinator alumni, Chris Hull, Dave Rogenmoser, and John Philip Morgan.
  • Jasper offers a free 7-day trial, after that pricing starts at $39 per month.

Drift 

Drift is a conversational marketing platform that enables businesses to engage with customers in real-time using chat, email, video, and more. It’s trained on over 100M B2B sales and marketing conversations, helping it deliver a better consumer experience.

  • Created by David Cancel and Elias Torres. Acquired by Salesloft.
  • Drift plans start at $2,500 a month.

Qualifier.ai 

Qualifier.ai is an AI platform that automates the sales process, particularly with email automation, audience targeting, and A/B testing.

  • Created by Joakim Ekström and Martin Björkman.
  • No free version available, and pricing is not publicly provided.

Apollo.io

Apollo.io is an AI-powered sales intelligence platform that helps businesses identify and engage with potential customers. 

  • Created by Tim Zheng and Ray Li.
  • Apollo.io offers a free version with access to some basic features, as well as paid tiers starting at $49 per month.

AI Controversies

Controversies surrounding AI tools are nothing new. From the beginning there have been concerns over cheating and plagiarism, such as prominent authors accusing AI platforms of copyright infringement, and artists upset that their work was used in AI training.

Large language models can “hallucinate,” or generate false information that appears plausible. This raises concerns about AI being used to spread misinformation, especially in areas where fact-checking is difficult.

AI models are trained by being fed large amounts of text data. This training is like if you were to read millions of books, articles, and other media, and then be able to remember it all and recite it back in an instant. It’s easy to see how this can create biases. If the content consumed includes prejudice, then that will be repeated back.

Back in February 2024, Gemini was involved in a controversy over generating historically inaccurate images. When asked for AI generated images of the Founding Fathers of the United States of America, Gemini produced images of these men as people of color. 

Tips for Parents

From educational aids to virtual companions, the array of AI tools available offers both convenience and complexity.

It’s important to stay informed about how to keep our children safe and responsible while using these tools. Understanding the nuances of AI tools is the first step.

From large language models like ChatGPT, to creative AI systems like DALL-E, each tool serves a specific purpose and carries unique risks. It’s helpful for parents to engage with these tools alongside their children, fostering open communication and guiding them on ethical usage.

Here are some tips to help you keep your kids safe from AI tools and some advice on how to use them responsibly:

  1. Educate Yourself: Take the time to understand how different AI tools work and the potential risks associated with them. Stay informed about advancements and controversies in the AI field to better guide your children.
  2. Set Boundaries: Establish clear guidelines for the use of AI tools, including screen time limits and appropriate content. If you feel your child is not ready for AI tools, consider starting with a device that doesn’t allow them. Encourage balance by incorporating offline activities into daily routines.
  3. Encourage Critical Thinking: Teach children to question and evaluate the information provided by AI tools. Help them develop critical thinking skills to discern between reliable sources and misinformation.
  4. Monitor Usage: Keep an eye on your child’s interactions with AI tools, especially those that involve personal data or sensitive topics. Regularly review privacy settings and permissions to ensure their safety online.
  5. Promote Responsible Creativity: Encourage creativity while emphasizing ethical considerations. Discuss the importance of respecting intellectual property rights and avoiding plagiarism when using AI-generated content.
  6. Lead by Example: Model responsible technology use by demonstrating healthy digital habits yourself. Show your children the importance of balancing technology with real-world experiences and human connections.

As AI continues to shape the future, fostering a culture of informed and ethical usage is essential for the well-being of generations to come. We can create a safer and more responsible digital environment for our children to explore and thrive in through education and communication.

Do you use any of these AI tools in your day-to-day life? Are there other tools we should know about? Share in the comments below.

Comments

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