Every company and workforce has that one person who’s always panicking about losing their job or being replaced. In a previous place of work (more on that later), we called him doomsday. And if you’re currently working in marketing, content writing, or anything that involves communication, chances are that you’ve encountered a great deal of this lately due to the stratospheric rise of ChatGPT.
And whether you’re team AI or team doomsday, I’m sure you’ve had your fill of buzzwords, article quotes, and stats being thrown your way. But humour me for a second and let’s play some paranoid workforce bingo. Check them off with me – “it’s faster than human writers”, “it can basically do our entire job”, or “most of us will end up being replaced by it”.
There was a time when I’d have probably scoffed at the idea of ChatGPT replacing a solid content writer. After all, AI and automation are things we’ve become accustomed to using in our daily lives, and while handy in moderation, no one is ever seriously going to consider choosing a glorified chatbot over the human touch.
FAST-RISING SOFTWARE WITH CONSEQUENCES
Since launching in November 2022, ChatGPT already has over 100 million active users, making it the fastest-growing app of all time in just over two months. When you consider that it took TikTok nine months and Instagram over two years to achieve this, it’s not difficult to see that there’s an appetite for AI content writing.
However, writers love to tell a good story, and our imaginations are known for getting the better of us at times. Surely, AI chat was something too repetitive and unpolished to pose any kind of real threat to any content writer?
I shrugged it all off and logged in for another day of work.
Then I lost my job.
I LOST MY HEART (WELL, MY JOB) TO CHATGPT
When I first heard about the rise of AI content writing, I wasn’t as concerned as some of my peers. In fact, I was relatively excited about it. My place of work had encouraged us to start using AI chat to generate posts based on random topics to see how effective it truly was.
The results? Not great. We all had a good laugh about it and collectively agreed that it was a long way from being a threat. But there was no denying that it was fast – putting out 10-20 guest posts in the time it took a single team member to craft one the old-fashioned way.
And while I’d assumed ChatGPT would be something content writers may need to work alongside eventually, that future happened all too quickly when I was told to hit the road.
In my mind’s eye, I’d always seen the rise of the machines as some kind of Terminator-inspired scene – with a rugged actor rallying the last of humanity to come together and conquer their digital overlords. Unfortunately, real life is far less interesting, and instead, I just stared at the wall, dumbfounded for the rest of the day.
WHAT IS CHATGPT?
Developed in part by Elon Musk (despite now distancing himself from it all), this AI writing tool is a conversational chatbot that has been designed to follow instructions and reply with an in-depth response. However, unlike many other variations of AI chat, this version was intended to be capable of following up further on its instructions – even challenging inaccuracies.
WHY HAS IT BECOME SO POPULAR?
Some people call it reactionary. Others call it necessary. And the reason for its sudden rise in popularity is probably somewhere in the middle. In a post-pandemic business landscape, FOMO has become more prominent than ever before, and businesses have found themselves flocking to automation to remain (at least as they perceive) ahead of the curve.
Some of the other potential reasons may stem from the unfounded rumours of the AI itself actually replacing Google as a search platform.
In a dark irony, the demand for automated content has perhaps come from an emotional place, rather than a logical one. But can something that’s popularity stems from this be effective enough to captivate and engage humans when all of the digital dust settles?
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF CHATGPT?
As it currently stands, AI tech and AI content writing are considered by many to benefit businesses in the following three ways:
- BETTER CUSTOMER SERVICE
With more choices available to them than ever before, companies are striving to develop a stronger bond with their customers and elevate their consumer experience. AI chat innovations have already been in place for years now, but ChatGPT is considered to be a future landmark in consumer satisfaction due to its ability to resolve issues quickly.
- MORE COST-EFFECTIVE
Automation can significantly decrease the costs of running a business, and when you’re a small to medium enterprise hoping to make an impact at the fraction of the labour costs usually needed, it’s hard to resist the lure of it all.
For marketing companies and businesses that use content writers, this means gaining access to a large number of industry-specific blogs – without having to hire a writer.
- IMPROVED EFFICIENCY
Automation can reduce errors in dull administrative tasks while giving human employees more time for other business matters. Customer service issues can be streamlined if they talk to GPT-3, and response times are significantly shortened.
Do you work in an industry that’s swimming in vast amounts of data? This AI can analyse the lot in a matter of minutes. Are you a company in need of 20 guest posts per month? You’ll have them within a few hours.
Perhaps the biggest benefit of all is that many businesses – especially smaller companies, feel that fully embracing these innovations today will provide them with the means to be one step ahead of the competition in the future.
WHAT ARE THE PROBLEMS WITH CHATGPT?
Before exploring the five main problems people are currently experiencing with this AI writing platform, it’s worth noting that due to excessive web traffic and capacity limits, a lot of users can’t actually test out the software.
Once that obstacle is resolved, users are still going to be faced with the following problems when using ChatGPT:
- SEXIST AND RACIST CONTENT
In a Twitter thread that had online users rather stunned, Professor Steven Piantadosi,
Head of UC Berkeley’s computation and language lab showed multiple examples of AI writing and its inability to create content without racial or gender bias.
While steps were made to rectify this, it exposed the lack of ability that AI had to understand bias and how it forms technology itself. To make matters worse, labourers in Kenya were paid peanuts to sift through extremely traumatic content in order to try and resolve the problem.
- LIMITED KNOWLEDGE
Some of the content generated by ChatGPT can be misleading, in more ways than one. First of all, AI copywriting tends to provide answers that aren’t always correct. And with no clear individual assigned to edit or challenge it as accurate, you run the risk of being fed completely false information.
A limited understanding of what’s deemed factual and appropriate means that the AI often fills gaps in data with incorrect information. In other words, despite saving time initially, you’ll be using that time up again (and possibly more) by having to sift through every last detail in order to check it’s correct.
- YOUR BRAND WILL NO LONGER STAND OUT
If you’ve found a way to generate 25 posts about a subject, you can expect to receive them back quickly through AI content writing. But those blogs will inevitably contain information from OpenAI’s language model, and all of the overused cliche phrases and wording that comes with it.
This creates a situation where your content is suddenly overly detailed, cold, and increasingly similar to your competitors – who are also using AI copywriting as a shortcut. In time, any hard work that you’ve done to stand out and establish your brand as a thought leader can be undone in a matter of weeks.
- IT ISN’T CURRENTLY MOBILE-FRIENDLY
It sounds odd to say it out loud, but the fastest-growing app in history isn’t actually mobile. Unfortunately, this has led to swarms of scammers claiming to offer this mobile-friendly tool in exchange for huge sums of money.
And while OpenAI is said to be scrambling to provide a genuine mobile app, in order to appease modern businesses accustomed to having it readily available, nothing has been officially announced.
- PLAGIARISM IS A BIG PROBLEM
It didn’t take long for people to use AI writing to cheat, as seen in South Carolina where a college student was found to be using ChatGPT to plagiarise schoolwork. Interestingly enough, the professor who detected the plagiarism has suspicions based purely on a sense that there was something very peculiar about the content written.
When you consider the ramifications of this in the modern business world, there are some serious worries to contend with. Not only are your competitors potentially able to rip off your content, but they can do so with just enough difference for it to be passed off as original.
A LITTLE HUMAN PERSPECTIVE
Of course, this could all be dismissed as nothing more than sour grapes from a bitter content writer with an AI axe to grind. But look closer. Have you noticed a pattern amongst the five issues of AI content listed above?
While the benefits, also listed above, do provide some use to companies and customers alike, the problems that can come from solely relying on this software run far deeper than those surface-based improvements.
Let’s summarise quickly:
- lacks judgement on what is deemed appropriate to write
- has a tendency to make up information that it doesn’t know
- uses a language model that every competitor will have as well
- lacks the ability to be mobile-friendly
- is rife with plagiarism and unoriginality.
Small businesses live and die by the pillars of ethics, adaptability, and their position as a thought leader in their industry. When you combine those issues with dull and lifeless content that sounds like every other business, what are you offering your customers – besides a fast reply to a query?
Actually, forget that last question, and focus on the only question that really matters here:
Is this all you feel that your target audience deserves?
COULD AI CHAT REPLACE CONTENT WRITERS?
There’s nothing wrong with adapting to change and embracing the future. After all, automation was always destined to become a small part of the DNA of modern commerce and marketing.
But it shouldn’t be the only thing you’re relying on when you’re attempting to cultivate trust, develop long-term relationships, and answer some important questions about your company, like:
- Who are you?
- What do you offer?
- Why should people care?
For small businesses, it must look pretty appealing to run with the AI model (it certainly was for one of my previous employers!). Nonetheless, the idea of entrusting the future of your company to these advancements simply cannot reap those big-time long-term rewards.
Small, short-term wins? Sure. You’ll shave off a few quid on your outgoings (although ChatGPT isn’t exclusively free) and churn out a lot of work in no time at all. But as we all know, humans aren’t that simple, and true relationships aren’t built on such unsteady foundations.
THE POWER OF GOOD STORYTELLING
The truth of the matter is that life and relationships aren’t simple. Nor should they be. Did I expect to wake up and suddenly need to find a new way of paying my rent for the foreseeable future? Nope. Is it fair? Who’s to really say what’s fair these days? But it certainly doesn’t feel fair from a human perspective.
Either way, real-life certainly makes for some good storytelling. Can you add a few exaggerations for impact and dramatic effect? You bet. But one of the most thrilling elements of human-led content, and this piece in particular, is that I get to talk openly about a raw subject that all of you have inevitably experienced yourselves at some point.
My ability to express an inherently human experience and your ability as a reader to feel empathy, sympathy or even anger and disdain for what I’m saying cannot be replicated. And most important of all, we each have the ability to use our collective experiences and emotions, good or bad, to connect with people.
WHAT DOES AI CHAT MEAN FOR ALL WRITERS?
Telling your story – or the story of someone’s business, is a responsibility we should never take for granted. I personally feel this way because if a business owner comes to me and wants to really crack their brand’s narrative, I assume that they’re as passionate about what they do for a living as I am.
Is the concept of using AI chat in content all bad? Absolutely not. AI has the potential to help writing become more accessible than ever before. But the quality of content we are giving people access to, and the ethics surrounding how it is generated remains uncertain.
For most of us, AI content writing is a long time away from being up to scratch. And in this content writer’s opinion, there’s a big difference between understanding language and using that language to inspire, challenge, or provide definitive answers to some of life’s questions – something that can’t be summarised by a quick talk to GPT-3.
TENTATIVE STEPS TO A HAPPY MEDIUM
Perhaps someday soon, businesses will find a happy medium in this situation. Maybe the future of content will be some kind of hybrid that deftly blends automation and humans by using cutting-edge software that’s then carefully edited and quality checked by a content writer.
In short, for every creation, there needs to be a beating heart right there to add those intangible elements. It’s in those magic moments and creative flourishes that we are all able to inspire people and guide them from interested parties to loyal customers.
ChatGPT can’t replace you and your experiences as an employee – no matter what your industry is. It can replace your understanding of what it means to be human, what it takes to run your own business or your empathy for frustrated people who just want to find a clear and concise answer to a question.
And while modern life isn’t always so simple, you can make it simple for your customers, clients, and anyone else you please by focusing on those human elements and applying them to your craft. If you’re able to do that while writing from the heart, you’ll be able to tell the story of any brand the right way, and for the right reasons.
What could be more human than that?