Artificial Intelligence – Friend or Foe
Introduced in November 2022, ChatGPT has already reached over 100 million users, making it the fastest growing consumer application to date.
With most new technologies, it’s the geeks and the technologists who are ready to jump right in, while users are typically more cautious – taking things slowly until they understand exactly what they’re getting into. The bravest become early adopters, testing new products as they make their way into the real world. Once the debugging is done and most of the pitfalls are known, the rest of us start to jump in as well.
In the case of AI, the exact opposite seems to be true. Users are excited about the possibilities despite the many unanswered questions, and they seem ready to take the plunge across a whole range of AI-based applications. Inventors, CEOs, and key technologists, on the other hand, are sounding the alarm, saying we need to proceed with caution into this brave new world. Government entities are also concerned based on their past experience with cybercrime, misinformation, and fake news propagated and amplified across social media platforms.
In March 2023, more than 1,000 technology leaders and researchers wrote an open letter that urged artificial intelligence labs to pause development of the most advanced systems, warning that AI tools present “profound risks to society and humanity.”
How GenAI Could Fit into Today’s Marketing Communications Landscape
If you ask professional writers how they feel about the AI writing programs that are currently flooding the market, they’ll probably tell you that they’re intrigued, apprehensive, and excited all at the same time. Those who are early adopters have already started exploring the capabilities, while others are waiting to see how this all plays out.
Most writers do what they do because they love the process – choosing the right words, crafting just the right message, each one personalized for a specific company, client, product, overall goal, and target audience. If AI does all of your writing for you, much of that goes away. But it can be a powerful assistant, used to develop an outline, flesh out content, give you fresh ideas when you’re stuck, and save time so that you can take on more clients or expand the scope of your work.
Letting Machines and Humans Do What They Do Best
As a writer, you need to “know your client.” What are the objectives of this writing project? What is the company’s mission, its core values, its language, and its key differentiators? What are the word choices and the tone that capture their voice, and what makes their brand unique? Ideally, with every writing job, you are using your communication skills to represent your customer in the best possible light, so you can reach the right audience with the most compelling message.
Notice that these are all things that humans to do well and machines “not so much.”
For writers, the question is, where can AI assist and where will it be an impediment or a distraction – in effect, a lesser version of yourself. As an assistant, it can be a major time-saver helping with research, creating outlines, suggesting catchy titles and headlines, and even doing some “out-of-the-box thinking” based on the vast amount of data it has access to. But for now, at least, the professional writer needs to remain in the driver’s seat – making strategic judgments, creating the final copy, and applying finishing touches to ensure that each deliverable “hits all the right notes.”
Here’s how this “creative AI-writer partnership” might work:
You start out in the traditional way by talking to your client/content owner to understand the assignment (topic, length, key points, target audience).
Next you do your homework by researching the topic, developing a preliminary outline, and getting approval before starting to write.
Next comes the first draft, including title, headings, and key sections.
And here is where your AI writing assistant can step in. What does it have to say about this topic? What does its recommended outline look like? What title and headings does it suggest? Are there places where the AI app is helping you “fill in the blanks” with some fresh ideas that you can now pursue and incorporate?
GenAI – Much Promise, Many Unanswered Questions
AI is moving out of the laboratory and into the mainstream at hyper speed. As a fast moving target, it’s difficult to predict exactly where it’s going and the impacts it’s going to have on various aspects of our lives. We’re looking at a giant puzzle with many missing pieces, in essence opening a big box without knowing what will be coming out. There’s the very real fear of unexpected and unforeseen consequences, which is why we need to understand the capabilities and risks in order to harness AI’s power thoughtfully and responsibly.
Is it going to replace humans and if so, in what jobs?
Are there areas where it can be a force multiplier – expanding our reach and current capabilities, greatly accelerating our productivity and achievements?
Will it help us address some of the planet’s most intractable problems?
And will it be used by some for nefarious ends, unless we can prevent that from happening?
Embracing the Best of Both Worlds
AI can be fun (think Boston Dynamic’s dancing robots, AI toys, and video games), and it can be empowering (think AI-assisted apps and generative AI tools). It can be threatening (when traditional jobs are drastically redefined or go away), and it can also be scary (think deep fakes, privacy violations, algorithmic bias, cybercrimes, and social manipulation).
Not quite ready for prime time, GenAI has enormous potential and we should all pay attention as it evolves and morphs into something truly transformative. For marketers and writers, GenAI isn’t really an either/or proposition but more about understanding the technology’s strengths and weaknesses, then deciding how to use it to best advantage, augmenting rather than replacing our current roles. Recent breakthroughs only hint at what future AI models will be able to do, but one thing is clear – they have the potential to drastically change the way we approach content creation going forward.