AI Can’t Replace Hands-On Training For Four-Wheeling

Training Bench Mark Map reading

With AI (artificial intelligence) in the news so much today, I thought I’d try a little experiment. I was curious as to what extent the program (ChatGBT) could teach what I teach. Ultimately, could AI replace me (and the other trainers)?

The answer is no, but AI does offer valuable information at times. That information can supplement what is gleaned from other sources.

My experiment with AI

After logging in, I typed this request: “Write an article as a quiz on four-wheel drive concepts.”

I’ll give the program credit for quickly – and I mean quickly – providing the article. But the questions in the quiz weren’t as strong as I would’ve liked. And at least one answer was wrong.

One question ChatGBT created was, “What is the term for the ability of a vehicle to climb steep inclines without losing traction?” Possible answers included:

  1. a) Slip Differential b) Hill Descent Control c) Rock Crawling d) Gradient Ascension

The correct answer, according to the program was C, rock crawling.

Really? That doesn’t make sense to me.

Another question asked what the recommended tire pressure was for off-road driving. Answers included “higher than usual” and “lower than usual.” “Lower than usual” was given as the correct answer. Well, sure, but that’s not very helpful.

Let’s get more specific. Something like “tire pressure of 15 – 18 psi” would be a good answer.

For background purposes, a quiz or test is fine. But to truly learn and master four-wheeling, one must get out there and drive. It’s impossible to develop a cookbook to cover all conditions and obstacles encountered off road. Even AI can’t do that.

Ham radio offers a good analogy. A person could become licensed by studying the question pool and taking online practice exams. While some questions may cover on-air practices, the only way to learn how to operate is to get on the air – ideally with a ham radio operator acting as a mentor.

That is the case with four-wheeling. Study all you want, but then sign up for training. Follow up by going off-road and putting that training into action.

Being involved ensures highest retention rates

People learn material in a variety of ways. Some like to read. Others prefer a verbal format. Some learn best in a verbal/visual format. Research shows that retention rates are highest when participants are involved in the activity. Doing is more effective than studying. Check out this graphic.

Note that simply reading about the topic results in 10% retention. Retention rates climb dramatically the more involved the person is. Retention is as high as 90% when individuals perform the action.

Don’t get me wrong: I believe in reading to learn. (Do a lot of that myself.) I’ve been publishing these articles for more than 15 years. In addition, I offer various handouts during my courses. Those handouts augment my presentations and the techniques I demonstrate.

Numerous books have been written about 4WD. I’m a big fan of Jim Allen’s work. He, along with James Weber, wrote “The Four-Wheeler’s Bible: The Complete Guide to Off-Road and Overland Adventure.” Everyone attending my basic classes gets a copy.

The written word accomplishes only so much. As you can see from the graph, retention is greatest when participants put that knowledge into action.

Just one example: Four-wheelers need to know how to pick lines. Drivers simply can’t learn that by reading about it somewhere.

Artificial intelligence is here to stay. It’s becoming an integral part of our lives and businesses. Whether that’s ultimately good or bad remains to be seen. As for four-wheeling, the information gleaned from AI can augment what is taught through other means.

Learning four-wheeling necessarily involves hands-on training. That training helps cement the principles and techniques in the drivers’ minds. Regular off-roading further reinforces what was learned in class.

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Did you miss the previous articles?


Some Upcoming Events (click on the link for details)

The 2024 schedule of clinics and adventures trips has been posted on the web site.

Time to sign up for Death Valley in April, the Rubicon trip in August and a trip to Utah in May.

March 2024

March 13, 2024 Cal4Wheel Death Valley Experience 
March 16, 2024 AWD Off-Road Driving and Safety Clinic – SD Area
March 23, 2024 Getting Started Off-Road Driving – SD Area
March 24, 2024 Day 2 Getting Started Off-Road Driving – SD Area
March 23-24, 2024 Getting Started Two Day Package – SD Area

April 2024

April 6, 2024 Getting Started Off-Road Driving – LA Area
April 7, 2024 Day 2 Getting Started Off-Road Driving – LA Area
April 6-7, 2024 Getting Started Two Day Package – LA Area
April 11, 2024 Death Valley Adventure
April 20, 2024 Tire Repair and Hi Lift Mini Clinic – LA Area
April 27, 2024 Getting Started Off-Road Driving – SD Area
April 28, 2024 Day 2 Getting Started Off-Road Driving – SD Area
April 27-28, 2024 Getting Started Two Day Package – SD Area

May 2024

May 4, 2024 Getting Started Off-Road Driving – LA Area
May 5, 2024 Day 2 Getting Started Off-Road Driving – LA Area
May 4-5, 2024 Getting Started Two Day Package – LA Area
May 7, 2024 Utah Adventure
May 18, 2024 Winching Clinic – LA Area
May 19, 2024 Day 3 Putting It All Together – LA Area
May 25, 2024 Memorial Day Club Run

June 2024

June 1, 2024 Tire Repair and Hi Lift Mini Clinic – LA Area
June 15, 2024 Starting Rock Crawling
June 21, 2024 OAUSA Field Day

I hope to see you on the trails!
Tom Severin, President Badlands Off Road Adventures, Inc.
4-Wheel Drive School
Make it Fun. Keep it Safe.

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Copyright 2024, Badlands Off-Road Adventures, Inc.


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