Time to read: 4 minutes
As a professional and experienced copywriter, AI and how it will come to influence humanity has been the cause of much recent existential dread for Anthony McNamara, content creator at The Comms Crowd. In this post he looks at the risks and benefits of ChatGPT and what it is really in store for us.
As a professional and experienced copywriter, AI and how it will come to influence humanity has been the cause of much recent existential dread. Admittedly, binging on every documentary and podcast the topic has to offer, all with contributions from long-time experts in the field, did little to assuage my fears.
Initially, the dread was far-reaching. The speed with which AI continues to develop is raising questions those in power don’t even know exist, let alone know how to answer. Approaching its adolescence, the advent of Artificial General Intelligence (AGI) – a term suspiciously innocuous – will mark the technology’s passage into maturity and the point at which our dependency on robotic intelligence will begin its final phase.
It will mark the most significant point in human history since the first homo sapiens discovered how to create fire. AGI, however, will be a blaze we could all too easily lose control over forever. Hence the recent dread.
The dread gets real
When ChatGPT trampled onto the scene like a heavily caffeinated Wildebeest in a pensioners’ yoga class, I admit to not thinking too much of it. “Another AI service that I can spend my free time interrogating on whether 4-4-2 or 4-3-3 is the more effective football formation. Big wow.”
But then I used it, and the cold beads of sweat began forming on my expansive brow.
The solution I opted for, Bearly.AI, offers a variety of ‘prompts’, one of which is called ‘Copy Wizard’ for essays, blogs, and posts. I typed in a made-up, generic title and sat back in horror as the tool generated a grammatically sound and, on the face of it, relevant 1,000-word blog.
If it was dread I was experiencing before, I wouldn’t even know what the word is to describe what I experienced at that moment.
It was a feeling that lasted for weeks. The gig is up. Time to start thinking about re-training.
The importance of knowing your enemy
Having sought reassurance from a selection of family members, friends, and colleagues, I unearthed my resolve. I love my job, and I’m not losing it to a set of cocky algorithms.
It was time for me to step into the ring with ChatGPT, and we were going bare knuckle.
Instead of using some generic blog title, I re-engaged Bearly.AI and typed in the title of an actual blog a real client had asked me to write. The blog outline immediately separated into different sections and looked depressingly appropriate. Next, I clicked the ‘Generate Copy’ button, and within around 30 seconds, the full blog cascaded down my screen.
But then I began reading it, and the sense of elation was almost transcendental. The blog was crap.
It was littered with repetition, from sentence openers to entire sentences. It had zero personality. And, it was laughably light on illuminating facts and figures — just crap.
Friend, not foe
With round one going emphatically to the human, I began to recalibrate my whole attitude toward ChatGPT. Its ability to produce quality content is limited, to put it politely, but it offers other functions that have since proved to be handy.
The ‘Continuation’ prompt designed to help beat writer’s block has merit, as does the ‘Executive Summary’ and ‘Counter Argument’ prompts. In fact, it turns out that learning how to construct the best prompts is arguably the most important skill you can acquire when using ChatGPT-enabled tools.
True though this may be, even with the most ChatGPT-friendly prompts inputted, the resultant copy is not what any self-respecting copywriter or organisation would ever think to submit, much less, publish. But it can give a decent starting point, a handy blueprint for something a competent human can radically improve upon.
In other words, ChatGPT can be thought of as a promising work-experience student approaching their employer and saying, “Hi, I’ve done this for you to try and save you a bit of time.” And I, the employer in this dubious analogy, reply with, “Thank you. I can probably use some of this. Now you run along and finish transcribing that video for me.”
Even if ChatGPT does become a little too self-assured in the future, it faces another problem even more formidable than me.
The search engines won’t stand for it
When the likes of Google cottoned on that people were stuffing their websites with key words as a means of doping their SEO, the backlash was ruthless. Many websites were penalised so heavily with SERP (Search Engine Results Page) relegations, they never properly recovered.
Expect the same for AI content. Indeed, a raft of AI content detector tools are already sweeping the marketplace and it seems to be a matter of time before they’re integrated into search engine result generators.
The last thing any search engine provider wants is for its users to be pummelled with a load of robot content during their cyber surfing sessions.
Apart from the inevitability of this development is the delicious irony – AI saving the livelihoods of copywriters from AI. *chef’s kiss*.
ChatGPT knows its place. For now.
I don’t know what the future holds for ChatGPT. That’s the one thing that’s still quite scary – no one really does.
However, I do know that in its present form, it can’t respond to detailed briefs anything like as ably as a human copywriter. It can’t understand the unspoken reactions of clients during calls. It can’t offer original insight on any topic, question a client’s approaches or ideas, and it can’t inject personality unless it’s pretending to be someone else.
Mercifully, it also seems to understand all of this. With ChatGPT draped against the ropes, sweating and bloodied, I asked it directly if it was coming for my job.
“As an AI language model, I don’t have the ability to predict the future. However, it’s unlikely that ChatGPT or any other AI language model will completely replace copywriters. While AI can be helpful in generating content and assisting with certain tasks, copywriting involves creativity, critical thinking, and a deep understanding of language and communication. These are skills that are difficult for AI to replicate, and human copywriters are likely to remain an important part of the industry.”
Maintain that attitude, ChatGPT, and you and I will get along just fine.