26 Jan Why I’m Not Worried About ChatGPT
As a professional copywriter, you’d think I’d be worried about AI bots like ChatGPT that can supposedly write as well as a human. I think its potential is over-hyped. And I’m not the only one.
Last week, The Atlantic covered this topic. I think their staff writer Ian Bogost summed up the situation quite nicely:
Tools such as ChatGPT might not be as smart as they seem.
“ChatGPT doesn’t actually know anything—instead, it outputs compositions that simulate knowledge through persuasive structure,” Bogost wrote. “As the novelty of that surprise wears off, it is becoming clear that ChatGPT is less a magical wish-granting machine than an interpretive sparring partner.”
Could all this investment into the tech, he asks, be chasing after a bad idea?
Yes, for many reasons.
Have you read any of the writing this thing produces? It’s weird!
A blogger I admire recently published an article that featured two paragraphs written by the bot. As I was reading these paragraphs, I noticed a big shift in tone and texture. When he pointed out that ChatGPT had written the two previous paragraphs, I practically shouted, “I KNEW IT!”
It was just … off. There was no soul, no substance. The sentences were too slick and perfect. They most certainly did not sound human. And they did not sound at all like the author.
I was immediately turned off.
After this blog was published, my assistant, Stephanie, found a fantastic description of ChatGPT that explains why its writing is so artificial:
I’d love to have that embroidered on a pillow.
But wait a second, you might think:
What about people who are really bad at writing?
Let’s talk about good writing for a sec. Good writing requires more than knowledge about a topic and a grasp of grammar. It combines critical thinking, original ideas, and creativity. It requires a human.
Bots don’t think, come up with new ideas, or approach a situation from a new perspective. They analyze what’s already there and then output … something.
Good and bad writers and everyone in between already use AI-driven bots like autocorrect, auto-fill, and tools like Grammarly. They are supporting actors that can elevate our work, but they are not the star.
My friend Summer and I were talking about this the other night. You could use a bot to help you start a blog post (like maybe do the research for you), but then you would have to fiddle with word use, sentence structure, etc. so it sounds like you.
Would it save time? Possibly.
But it is not a “magical wish granting machine.”
And here’s why:
Robots do not have feelings or lived experiences
I am reading Bono’s memoir, Surrender, right now. It’s one of the most lyrical and poetic things I have ever had the pleasure of sinking into. Here’s a passage about the time Adam Clayton, their bassist, went on a bender so vicious that he missed a concert in Sydney:
[He] ended up on his knees with the three of us, looking to save himself from himself.
Looking for help from something bigger than himself.
It’s an extraordinary thing, the moment of surrender. To get down on your knees and ask the silence to save you, to reveal itself to you.
To kneel down, to implore, to throw yourself out into space, to quietly whisper or roar your insignificance. To fall prostrate and ask to be carried.
To humble yourself with your family, your bandmates, and to discover if there’s a face or name to that silence.
A bot could never write that because it has not lived Bono’s life and it has not experienced the world through his unique perspective.
Likewise, a bot could not blog for me, because it has no idea what I am thinking or feeling. It does not talk to my clients. It has not spent years navigating a life that has been messy, joyful, heartbreaking, exhausting, and funny.
This is why a bot cannot sound like you, me, or anyone else. It’s just a machine built with 0s and 1s.
Robots do not build relationships
Anyone remember the 2013 sci-fi movie “Her” starring Joaquin Phoenix? He plays a writer (yes, the irony is not lost on me) who develops a relationship with a new, advanced operating system. He and “Samantha” (voiced by Scarlett Johansson) form a friendship that deepens into love.
I know that a lot of sci-fi is based on reality – or a future that is possible. The idea that a machine can develop a romantic relationship with a regular person is … intriguing. But ChatGPT is not Samantha.
Relationships are at the heart of my agency. I like and care about my clients. I get to know them on a professional and a personal level. I deliver what I say I will, when I will, and we develop rapport and trust along the way.
You can’t form a genuine connection like that with a bot.
And when my clients have a question or aren’t sure about something, they call or email me. We brainstorm and problem solve together. Sure, I like to look at data, but I also weave in our history together – what has and hasn’t worked, what they prefer, what I can deliver.
A few days ago, I was talking to a friend and sometimes-client about one project she’d like to pull my team in on. Towards the end of our conversation, she said, “You know, I’d like to update my website content, too. It’s kind of boring.”
I opened a new tab in my browser and pulled up her website. After reading a few lines on her home page, I said, “This doesn’t sound like you at all.”
“But I wrote it.”
“I know, but it still doesn’t sound like you.”
My friend is smart and capable. That comes through in her website content; a bot could certainly write like that. But she is also fun and sassy, and that is completely missing. A bot could not capture that accurately. Working with her – and knowing her for several years now – I could.
So this is why I’m not worried about ChatGPT. The genuine relationships I form with my clients form a bedrock so solid that no bot can break through it.
What do you think about ChatGPT?
Are you excited about these bots, dismissive, worried? I’d love to hear your take.