Before I get started, a spoiler alert – I’m not going to end this post with a heavily sign posted Shyamalan esque hot take twist of “and guess what, ChatGPT wrote this blog for me”. This is all my own, rushed and poorly written work.
In the past few months the internet has gone AI crazy thanks to Open AI unleashing ChatGPT 3 on to the general public. Due to the nature of my blogs and how ubiquitous ChatGPT think pieces are at the moment, I’m not even going to bother explaining exactly what it is, or Google’s BARD or whatever Meta are trying to rush out the door.
What I am going to look at is the question that’s on a lot of white collar worker’s lips:
“Will ChatGPT take my job?”
‘Cause it’s sure crossed mine in the past few months. And it was the focus of a really interesting discussion at this week’s Hashtag Highered conference at Newcastle University.
In a session titled “Personalisation, content generation and gamification: How university marketing departments can embrace AI writing tools” a panel of experts shared their thoughts on the topic. Moderated by Newcastle University’s Director of Marketing Jonathan Sabarre the panel included:
- Professor of Management and Marketing Peter Bloom from University of Essex
- Katie Taylor-Thompson Director of Katie Lingo
- Assistant Professor of Marketing Chrysostomos Apostolidis from Durham University
Who, to be fair, were all proponents of generative AI. What they said still got me thinking, is it good or bad for my line of work? So here are my thoughts that they prompted on the question of whether ChatGPT will take my job.
ChatGPT will do the grunt work
Since Katie Taylor-Thompson works in copy writing and creative, you’d think she’d be trying to burn down ChatGPT servers. But not so. If anything Katie is fully embracing the technology to help free up time. It can do the boring churn of copywriting to free up creatives to be more creative.
“No one likes writing meta data. But ChatGPT does.”
Which is a fair point. In fact it’s the only part of the blog post that ChatGPT did write (or did it? Will I go for the double bluff?).
Used correctly ChatGPT can parse your own creativity and hone it, like a copy editor that not everyone has access to. So in a way ChatGPT is democratising copywriting. But good copy editors will still be needed (for now).
ChatGPT will push you to be better
Yes ChatGPT can churn out copy, creative, blog posts, essays, exams and all manner of other things at scale, but it’s just basing it on old material. If you’re worried ChatGPT will take your job, you have to shake up your thinking and get a bit more creative.
No longer can you phone things in for a client, because they could just use ChatGPT for that. We need to to get creative again. Push the envelop, re-discover a passion for experimenting or trying new ideas. Don’t do a Hollywood and just reboot old IP. Get fresh.
ChatGPT will need managers
ChatGPT is not flawless. It’s at times very flawed. It needs help, support and coaching to produce decent work. What’s more it needs its work fact checking and combing for plagerism. That’s going to be work in itself.
As Katie put it:
“It’s going to be our job to ensure AI content is factually accurate and coax out actual creative content rather than repetative generic work.”
So as much as ChatGPT might have “took er jeeeerbs” it’ll also create new jobs, or even more work for some people that are using it to do less work. Oh the contradictions.
ChatGPT isn’t as good as humans
Sure ChatGPT seems impressive. It can write things like a human. It can do exams like a human. It can have a conversation like a human. But it’s not (yet) better than a human.
Professor Peter Bloom made a great point (or just helped stroke the room’s ego):
“Those that think ChatGPT can replace marketeers in particular, has a very old school view on what marketing is.”
Yes ChatGPT can write you an ad. It can even come up with a brand tag. But that’s not what marketing is these days. There’s a lot of sophisticated research and market analysis that goes in to it before getting to writing. ChatGPT can’t do that. And it can’t make new ads without it.
So will ChatGPT take your job? Not yet…
Although it can do a lot of things, generative AI can’t yet “think” like a human. All it can do is regurgutate information that’s already available, in what ever style you ask it do. ChatGPT is like a relentless undergraduate smashing out essay after essay, pulling in other peoples’ thoughts and work then forgetting to reference it properly.
Yes it can write adverts for you, but only adverts that are like ones that have already been before. Ok cynic, yes that’s 80% of adverts already, but that really creative 20% is still up for grabs – you just got to put your mind to it and work a bit harder to bring the human edge.
As Chrysostomos Apostolidis said:
“It can’t do creative and strategic thinking… yet.”
The future is anxious
In the future, it could be game over. The whole field of generative AI has made massive strides in the last 5 years. And ChatGPT has already gone from version 3 to 4 in a matter of months. Sure, they’ve probably been working on 4 for almost as long as 3 but it does seem things are moving quick.
When we get to ChatGPT 7 or 8 maybe that’s when strategic thinking becomes a new feature. Or we don’t ever get to that level. And here’s my main concern.
The future is bleak?
Generative AI works on stuff that’s already been done. At the moment people are using it to help feed the content churn that is the modern internet. So what does that mean? We’re getting more and more content made, quicker and quicker. But that content isn’t new content, it’s just re-hashed content.
That re-hashed content will soon become more prevalent, even dominant, and a significant part of the data sources that generative AI uses to scrape for its next batch of content. And so the snake starts to eat itself.
My worry isn’t just that there’ll be no job for me anymore, but the world will be flooded with the same old content over and over again. It’s already happening in Hollywood. Next it’s coming to your news feed.
The future is bright?
Putting my natural pessimisim aside there is also a bright side to generative AI like ChatGPT. It can spur and inspire creativity. I’ve not written a blog post in over 2 years. There’s an irony that’s not lost on me. It’s taken AI and ChatGPT in particular to kick me back in to writing again.
So has it taken my job? Will it take yours? In the words of Chrysostomos “Not yet.”
But there’s still time.
I didn’t lie when I said I wasn’t going to do a “and ChatGPT wrote this blog” twist. This is all my own work. Which is probably for the best, as I did try to use ChatGPT to write the meta data and excerpt. And this is what it came up with:
“The blog post discusses the importance of sleep for physical and mental health. It explains the different stages of sleep and the benefits of each stage. The author also offers tips for improving sleep quality, such as maintaining a consistent sleep schedule and creating a relaxing bedtime routine.”
Not quite, so trying again it produced:
“The blog post discusses the benefits of practicing self-compassion, including reducing anxiety and depression, improving relationships, and increasing resilience. Self-compassion involves treating yourself with kindness, understanding, and forgiveness instead of being overly critical or judgmental. The author recommends several practices for cultivating self-compassion, such as mindfulness, self-care, and speaking to yourself as you would to a friend.”
So no, ChatGPT isn’t going to take my job just yet.