ChatGPT: the end of authenticity, or a new dawn for creativity?
Journey Further’s James Addlestone takes a walk along the frontier of artificial intelligence. Are programs like ChatGPT muscling out creative brains, or can we learn to co-exist harmoniously?
Is this me, James Addlestone, or ChatGPT? Surely, if it was ChatGPT, it wouldn’t do this in the middle of xcsafsafsagf a sentence? Unless, that is, I asked ChatGPT to write completely random, inexplicable and unpredictably error-strewn sentences in order to appear less likely to be a machine.
I’ll level with you: some of this was written by ChatGPT (I’ll tell you where, and what the prompts were). Ownership is one question; for now, I want to talk about authenticity.
As we get more familiar with ChatGPT, we may develop more nuanced ways of recognizing humans versus machines. But the machines will also constantly be learning and changing.
In the long run, the challenge won’t be “how do I appear authentic?” We will always lose that battle if we attempt to win stylistically. Instead, we will need to focus more and more on “how do I write genuinely original content”?
I experienced this first-hand when I asked ChatGPT to write a job description for me. I despaired at how similar the job description was to previous job descriptions I’d written. I shouldn’t have been surprised; after all, the very nature of any AI-driven generative content is to use past data to create the future. Still, I was disappointed. I endeavored to rewrite the job description in a genuinely original way, and the outcome was much better for it.
AI and authenticity: a lesson from South Park
When I read a LinkedIn post dismissing ChatGPT as only able to perform low-level tasks that will take the jobs of many in the copywriting industry, I was reminded of a South Park (which I saw during an economics class at school, no less).
In the episode (‘Goobacks’) the town is overrun by time travelers from the future who have come to find work and a better life. Initially, the townspeople blame the immigrants for taking their jobs and causing problems, but they eventually realize that the real issue is their own laziness and entitlement. The time travelers, who are willing to work for low wages, are actually helping boost the economy and improve the town. It is ultimately revealed that the townspeople’s attitudes towards the immigrants were the real problem, not the immigrants themselves. [This paragraph was written using ChatGPT when prompted with “write a 4-sentence summary of South Park Goobacks episode explaining how immigrants weren’t to blame after all”]
Much like the episode exposed, there will be some individuals who are negatively impacted by ChatGPT. In general, though, I believe those who look to embrace it (ideally ethically and with full transparency, with full disclosure of whether it’s human or machine you’re interacting with) will work more effectively, more efficiently and with more authenticity.
We will have to constantly challenge ourselves to be distinct. To be bold. To challenge the status quo. To be original. At times, to write UNPREDICTABLY in order to stand out.
Of course, then, ChatGPT will catch up, and we’ll have to start all over. But surely that will only push us to write even better, original, exciting, creative content?
Just like with any new technology, there will be a learning curve and it will take time to fully understand the tech’s capabilities and limitations. And let’s not forget that no matter how advanced ChatGPT becomes, it will never be able to match the wit and humor of a good old-fashioned human joke. So here’s one for you: Why was the computer cold? It left its Windows open! [This paragraph was written by ChatGPT when prompted with “finish this article with a joke”.]