Your own AI Editor: Local, private, no network needed and free!

While my personal views on large language models (ChatGPT, Claude, Bing/Copilot, Gemini etc.) are overall pretty critical, I find them useful in several circumstances.

BUT, I find the online share all your data on the web aspect far from ideal. By default these models are massive, requiring GPUs and huge RAM requirements, therefore they are not suitable to run locally, and critically depend on the cloud. There are open-source versions of these models that are optimised to fit in 8 to 16GB RAM machines and run on more modest CPU / GPU systems (i.e. local desktops). And there are some free GUIs that download, configure and run these models locally:

You can copy and paste text or write directly, there are no limits or costs. I’ve used GPT4All for a while and recently added LM Studio, which has a nicer GUI. Both apps offer a built-in server that runs locally and thus enables the chat model to be called from any other app.

And so as a final cherry on the top, if you use the excellent BetterTouchTool, there is an action that can take a text selection and run it through the API and replace the text: - Great Tools for your Mac! & Support GPT4All action? - Feature Requests - BetterTouchTool Community — so as an example I have two keys bound to run an AI engineer to answer technical questions written as text in any app and an AI editor to provide editing for selected text (pasting the original and suggested changes for perusal). You can tweak the actions to suit your needs by changing the prompt. I attach the AI Editor preset for anyone who may want to give this a go. Personally I have found these models useful for general questions of stuff I may have forgotten, and they can make useful suggestions for ways to rewrite a paragraph (at least for me as a scientist, I find the hit rate [rewording is better than mine] is around 50%, enough to keep it around). These models sometimes get things very wrong, so it is important to keep a skeptical eye on their outputs. But given they run offline, with no dependency on the web, their cumulated knowledge is truly amazing. (6.1 KB)