HomeTaskerI used ChatGPT to invent Tasker projects and the results were uncanny

I used ChatGPT to invent Tasker projects and the results were uncanny

Can ChatGPT replace my Tasker tutorials?

While working on another project (release soon), I needed to look up some PowerShell commands to deal with an excess number of files. After briefly browsing StackOverflow, I remembered that ChatGPT is pretty good for these queries. I queued up the tasks and moved on to the next step of my tutorial which involved Tasker. As my chat window was still open, I asked ChatGPT to make a Tasker profile for me.

Are my tutorials obsolete now? Will ChatGPT replace it?

Using ChatGPT to create Tasker projects

I’m very hesitant when it comes to using ChatGPT as a search engine, as time and time again, ChatGPT proves, that it is a language model which can make up plausible facts. It did handle my PowerShell commands flawlessly, so I gave it the benefit of the doubt.

Write Tasker app profile that deletes files that are older than 1 day

Was the question asked, and ChatGPT was more than eager to oblige with confidence:

Creating a Tasker project to delete files older than 1 day involves several steps, primarily utilizing Tasker's File operations and Time contexts. Here’s how you can set it up:

This sounds promising and plausible enough! ChatGPT proceeded with step-by-step instructions to create a full-on guide. I instantly felt irrelevant as I skimmed through the instructions. An undescribed sense of loss ran through me, as I knew that some of that data was likely generated from my Tasker Tutorials. There are only a handful of “us” posting about Tasker – it had to be!

I don’t mind anyone taking my code and using it to better their life. The reward for my work is a humble “like”, sometimes an email with feedback or a donation. At the very least – I get a view on my website to fuel analytics. All of the above compensate for all the time and effort I put into these to make them work.

For the second time since AI made headlines, I felt that the value of my skills diminished in other peoples’ eyes. The first time I felt this was when everyone got excited about Stable Diffusion, Midjourney, Dall-E and other generative art tools. I have an art degree, and while internet AI didn’t use my art as training data, I knew that the perception of my skillset had changed.

First, AI came for my art, and now it’s here to steal my Tasker tutorials… or is it?

The instructions are clear and promising. I didn’t read much into them before I decided to throw an immediate curveball.

Can you convert this into XML import file?

I opened a couple of Tasker’s .XML files before, but I never paid much attention to their syntax. Looking at the suggested file created by ChatGPT, I felt it could work. Without further thought, I saved it as a file and sent it to my phone to test it.

The import failed.

A part of me was disappointed as if this worked, I could move to hate on ChatGPT instantly. Instead, I had to test the output instructions step by step to see if I was still relevant in the Tasker tutorial space. The other part of me was happy: You can’t do everything you dipshit! At least not for now.

Following instructions like a good subject!

It’s uncanny, how easy it was to follow the first few steps of ChatGPT instructions. It was spot on about what options I could find in Tasker, how actions were named and what parameters and configurations were needed for each action.

Then I noticed something odd. It read OK at first sight but I made enough Tasker tutorials to know better!

Experienced Tasker users will know that global variables are spelt in upper case and should start with %, which isn’t a big deal, but %DATE+24h would never work! The logic of the calculation is on point, but the only way to make this expression work in Tasker is to use %TIMES instead: %TIMES+86400

My confidence in delivering the best Tasker tutorials money cannot buy, was restored. ChatGPT can imitate me, but just like camouflage in nature – one simply does not prowess in Tasker without dabbling!

When you don’t succeed… try again

So far, this makes for a fun little anecdote about AI taking over “our jobs”, but to make it statistically significant, I needed to try it more than once. After all, kicking downed AI enemies isn’t manly, but it’s fun and safe…

Until SkyNet retailetes… I asked the same question again and this time around, ChatGPT delivered a kick between my least expecting legs from a downed position with this little prompt change.

Note, that I didn’t really change my prompt all that much: Write a Tasker Project that deletes files older than 1 day. It was enough, to seed the hesitation in me. Perhaps AI is learning faster than I think it is?

Without reading the rest of it, I wanted to see if the .XML generation has improved. I asked ChatGPT to make another file, but it resembled the syntax from the previous failed attempt. I’m still winning that part of the challenge. Let’s see if I can create this project following tasks step by step from the new instruction set.

The redemption was short-lived, ChatGPT fixed the date issue, but completely removed the step where Tasker should obtain the File Modified date from the FOR loop.

This action was present in my initial prompt, and while technically correct, the action to achieve this is called Test File and looks like this:

On my 3rd and last attempt, ChatGPT asked me to use AutoTools in the plugin section to list files. I have AutoTools installed on my phone. It’s a great and useful plugin to tackle many awesome problems, but “File -> List Files” isn’t one of them.

Irreplaceable Mat

The general direction of ChatGPT was good. It knew the logical steps to tackle the problem and understood how Tasker works on the surface level, however, as a language model, it relies on the language interpretations not the actual knowledge of the app. It likely used tutorials and troubleshooting information publicly available online. It means that instructions are only a rough outline of things that you should consider rather than a precise step-by-step guide to your new Tasker creations.

Final thoughts

It’s possible to use ChatGPT to make a draft for your Tasker idea but to make it into a viable project requires experience and knowledge about Tasker and how it works. ChatGPT could handle very specific queries (that are already answered on r/Tasker, but it won’t replace me. Not for a while. This rings true for Tasker tutorials, art and other fields where executives are pushing for AI to save cost and maximise profits. To me, ChatGPT is a fun little tool to play with, but it’s nothing more than a McDonald’s in a world where we all love fine dining, and can whip up a much better meal at home! How do you use ChatGPT? Let me know in this Reddit thread.

📈 – See the transparency note for details.


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