Are you afraid of AI? You’re not alone.
Since last week, the internet is abuzz with what Luddites decrying how AI is ruining. everything. Many people are starting to worry about the potential impact it could have on society. But are our fears justified?
Let’s look at some questions that you may have about this newly available technology.
I’ve seen GPT-3 mentioned a few times online. WTF even is GPT?
GPT-3 (Generative Pre-trained Transformer 3) is a language processing tool developed by OpenAI. Basically, it’s an AI tool that guesses what to say next based on texts it has previously processed (i.e., a massive amount of data the tool trained with). It’s not the first of its kind, but it’s the best one so far.
The latest iteration of this tech can be used to generate songs, poems, video scripts, and even blog articles. The output is unbelievably good, and it’s virtually indistinguishable from any text written by a human.
I used it to write a version of the story of the Giving Tree where the tree speaks like RuPaul. It’s cute. Here’s an excerpt:
"Hey girl, you look like you could use some shade," RuPaul would say to a passing bird. "Come on over and sit in my branches for a while." The bird would chirp her thanks and make herself comfortable in RuPaul's branches. "And how about you, sugar?" RuPaul would say to a curious squirrel. "You look like you could use a snack. Come on over and try one of my delicious apples." The squirrel would gratefully nibble on the fruit and run back up the tree to play in RuPaul's leaves. Timmy would climb up RuPaul's trunk and sit in her branches, listening to her stories and wisdom. "I've been around for a long time, honey," RuPaul would say. "I've seen it all, and I've got some real wisdom to share with you. Just remember: you're born naked, and the rest is drag."
Okay, so you can make it sound like RuPaul. What else can we use it for?
GPT-3 can also be used to translate text and answer questions. It’s pretty good at following instructions. Its corresponding chatbot, ChatGPT, is trained on examples of human conversations, so it makes the back-and-forth sound convincingly human.
What are its limitations?
Like other AI tools before it, it can say some biased and offensive things. I imagine it can also be tricked into writing about how to do something illegal or nefarious if you tell the chatbot that it’s writing fiction.
And because GPT, like all other AI tools, can only generate ideas and suggestions based on what it has already seen and read before, the text that it generates can often sound convincing, but far from factual. Most of the time, the resulting text can be compelling but doesn’t display a particularly deep understanding of the subject.
Will AI writing tools put us out of our job?
I hate to say this, but it will be harder to get content writing jobs once AI writing tools become mainstream. A tool as smart as GPT-3 can spell disaster for some writers.
Yes, it might take away our jobs.
If we (and by we I mean us SEO writers, content strategists, and copywriters from developing countries) fail to communicate what value we offer and differentiate ourselves, there will be clients who’d choose these tools rather than hire someone. Some folks already believe that these writing tools can replace humans, especially “non-native” English speakers. No use denying that. Business owners are humans, and we will always have biases.
So if you’re like me who’s so unfortunate to have been born in a developing country where we have to prove that we know our colonizers’ language with a proficiency test every few years, yes, we have to upskill, now.
I can’t imagine any one tool will make our job obsolete – we still have photographers, graphic designers, visual artists, and music composers, and we’ve been generating music and images and graphic images for a while now. But I’m an incorrigible optimist.
AI is scary. There is nothing left to do but grovel before our new robot overlords.
Clearly not a question, and nope, I think it’s not valid. (I hope this comment doesn’t bite me in the ass in the future when robots come for me.) This sometimes keeps me up at night so naturally, I thought of this when the terrific GPT-3 captivated the imagination of the public last week.
So I logged on to OpenAI and asked the bot: Are these robots out to get me?
Here’s what it said:
It's understandable to have concerns about the potential impact of AI on society, but it's important to remember that AI is simply a tool. While it has the potential to be used for both good and bad, it's ultimately up to humans to decide how it's used. It's unlikely that AI will develop the ability to become "robot overlords" and enslave humanity. While AI technology is becoming increasingly advanced, it's still far from being able to exhibit the kind of complex emotions and decision-making abilities that would be necessary for it to pose a threat to humanity. Furthermore, the development and deployment of AI is heavily regulated by governments and organizations around the world, with strict guidelines in place to ensure that it is used ethically and responsibly. In short, there's no need to be scared of AI. While it's important to be aware of the potential impact it could have on society, it's unlikely to become a threat to humanity.
I mean… Okay. Sure.
(Kidding aside, what OpenAI said is consistent with all the pieces I’ve read on the matter so far. Here’s a good TED video on AI.)
Overall, I think that the potential uses for AI writing tools similar to GPT-3 are vast, and their impact will be far-reaching.
Sure, it has the potential to make our lives easier and more efficient, especially in our content-hungry world, but it remains to be seen how it could change the way we create and consume media. It will be game-changing, like how social media upended our lives back in the oughts.
One last thing: I’ve been looking at this photo I found on Reddit since yesterday. I’m not sure where this was taken, but it looks like an ad in Australia.
This is the work of a human copywriter. This is not something that AI can replicate yet. This is human creativity.
There will always be a need for nuanced, high-quality content. So yes, AI may render some writing jobs obsolete, as with any other technological advancement in any other industry. But there will always be room for creative writers.
What are your thoughts on AI writing tools?