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The Elephant in the Writer’s Room: ChatGPT

It’s time we had a chat about the elephant in the writer’s room and new content kid on the block: ChatGPT.

Before announcing his second retirement, Tom Brady famously said, “Necessity is the mother of invention.”

Actually, it was Plato. Fooled you, didn’t I?

Written content is a necessity in any field, and ChatGPT is an artificial intelligence invention that’s allowing it to be more easily produced.

I’m going to say something that’s a little less sophisticated than Plato’s words: AI is cool. It’s very, very cool. It’s also a disruptor that has changed many lives for better or worse, and I’m not gonna lie, it’s kept me up some nights.

As a concerned human writer, I’ll be objective about my thoughts and feelings on AI and ChatGPT.

What is ChatGPT?

ChatGPT is an artificial intelligence product by parent company OpenAI that writes content quickly.

Ask it to tell you about The Council of Trent, and it will generate several paragraphs in under a minute.

Tell it to recite the lyrics of Baby Shark, and it will with haste.

If you need step-by-step instructions on how to steal a car's catalytic converter, it will comply, though it's a good idea to mention that you're just asking for a friend, because OpenAI keeps a record of all user inquiries.

You get the idea.

Because of the amount of computing power ChatGPT uses, it’s estimated that it costs OpenAI $100,000 per day to run it.

It's Impressive

If the above doesn't impress you, this will: It's been recently reported that ChatGPT passed law exams at the University of Minnesota and a business management course exam at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business.

In addition, it passed parts of the U.S. medical licensing exam, it scored a 149 (40th percentile) on the Law School Admission Test (LSAT), and 78% on New York state’s high school chemistry exam’s multiple choice section.

It can also do some computer programming.

And it can write blog posts (though not this one), articles, white papers, term papers, essays, etc.


At the same time, “ChatGPT struggled with the most classic components of law school exams, such as spotting potential legal issues and deep analysis applying legal rules to the facts of a case,” according to University of Minnesota law professor, Jon Choi.

“After all, when you give a medical doctor a degree, you want them to know medicine, not how to use a bot,” said Christian Terwiesch, a Wharton business professor. “The same holds for other skill certification, including law and business.”

Even OpenAI cautions that ChatGPT can generate incorrect or misleading information. It’s important to also note that it is a chatbot, and chatbots can be unreliable.

Per CNET, “Here's the catch: ChatGPT doesn't exactly know anything. It's an AI that's trained to recognize patterns in vast swaths of text harvested from the internet, then further trained with human assistance to deliver more useful, better dialog. The answers you get may sound plausible and even authoritative, but they might well be entirely wrong, as OpenAI warns.”

Then there’s the issue of emotional intelligence, which comprises self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy, and social skills. ChatGPT doesn’t have this level of sophistication, because it’s, well, not human.

ChatGPT also doesn't have knowledge of events beyond 2021. Ask it which NFL team won the AFC Championship, and the response you get it, "I'm sorry, as my training data only goes up until 2021, I don't have information on the winner of the AFC Championship after that date."

Oh, and Google doesn’t like ChatGPT. Their AI chief said that Google assumes more “reputational risk” and is proceeding “more conservatively than a small startup.”

Ooh, burn.

Google has strict policies against AI-generated content that’s created solely for search engine rankings that don't have people in mind. Interesting Engineering quoted their stance: "Our spam policies also address spammy automatically-generated content, where we will take action if [the] content is generated through automated processes without regard for quality or user experience."

Speaking of Tech Giants…

Microsoft plans to pour billions of dollars into OpenAI to add ChatGPT’s technology to all of its products to compete more with Google. It’s no surprise that Google is working on its own ChatGPT-like product called Apprentice Bard.

Why We’re Frenemies 

It's a fool's errand—and a costly one at that—to mock technology and deny its utility as it becomes more advanced.

ChatGPT seems competent at assembling information already out there, possibly making it better, and delivering results very fast. However, knowing when to use it and when not to is key.

If you feel like giving it a shot, be prepared to:

  • Verify the content it uses. As of a week ago, ChatGPT was not citing any sources. The information it assembles is only as good as the information already available.

  • Ensure good flow of content. When you give ChatGPT a writing prompt, it saturates its content with keywords to the point that it’s obvious you are reading something that’s AI generated.

  • Check for plagiarism. Universities are banning ChatGPT to keep students from plagiarizing. Though OpenAI is working on a plagiarism-detection feature, the company admits it’s “...imperfect and should be taken with a grain of salt.” The Policy Research Director added, "We are emphasizing how important it is to keep a human in the loop … and that it's just one data point among many others."

I view ChatGPT as an effective writing tool. Sometimes it helps me get started by generating an outline or a draft. In short, it can allow me to be more efficient.  

But the operative word is “tool.”

I’ll use an analogy with a literal tool. Someone may own a high-end wrench to fix a kitchen sink but lack the knowledge and expertise of a plumber, who will get the job done the right way.

In another example, you may know how to change a tire, but when it blows while you're driving on the expressway in the snow, AAA is the best option.

ChatGPT is not a professional writer. It can’t understand a company’s culture, values, voice, brand, and audience the way writers who’ve achieved mastery do. I’m of the belief that the human elements of interpersonal connection, relationship-building, and know, like, and trust can’t be replaced by AI.

I’ll leave you with this. The smart ass that I am, the very first prompt I gave ChatGPT was:

About the Author, David Telisman

I am a Writer and Content Creator, and I work with businesses to inspire their customers to buy from them. I believe that my clients deserve to feel proud of how their content marketing looks and what it says, and I deliver by providing expert copywriting and marketing solutions.

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