07 · AI bots in version control

Creative work increasingly involves using AI tools. These tools can help us improve our work, but can also give bad suggestions or make mistakes.

We think concepts from version control can help people work productively with AI, as shown in our latest Patchwork demo:

In the demo, an AI bot for a style guide makes changes as another collaborator in the document. It puts changes on a branch, which you can choose to partially or completely merge—just like you would suggestions from a human coauthor.

Suggested changes from a style bot on a branch.

The changes are highlighted in a diff to help you review. Once you accept edits from a bot, the history timeline also shows which edits came from the bot.

Bot appears as a user in the document history.

One more thing: since the bots are simply text prompts, you can create your own by adding a bot prompt into your document collection!

Bots can be shared, edited, and versioned just like regular documents—for example, you can view the history of a prompt, or use a branch to try a new variant of a prompt.

So far, we’ve found that bots can be useful for tasks like style guide editing and voice transcript cleanup. We’ve also built variants of this system where the bot leaves comments with edit rationale, and have found that helpful for understanding whether to accept a particular edit.

In the future, we hope to determine out how bots can prove most useful in our daily workflows. We’re also planning to explore how AI tools can extend to editing other kinds of data besides writing, following our vision of universal version control.

Next entry: 08 · History and diffs with Automerge

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