ChatGPT has been out for over half a year now; the throbbing phallus of AI is firmly lodged in the anus of society.
I am so sorry for that inexcusably rude opening sentence. I just thought I’d type something outrageously inappropriate, something that ChatGPT wouldn’t have written in its wildest dreams, so you can be assured it’s a human talking to you here, and not a chatbot.
In this article, I’m going to attempt to put into words what is essentially a love-hate relationship I have with ChatGPT. I’ll start by calling a spade a spade…
ChatGPT is a marvel
A year ago, if you’d have told me something as powerful as ChatGPT was just around the corner, I wouldn’t have believed you.
Sure, chatbots had been around long before ChatGPT, and there was a vague awareness among the general population that AI was getting smarter…
But for those of us who weren’t really following the developments in AI, ChatGPT came out of absolutely fucking nowhere. It was inexplicably, mind-blowingly more advanced than anything that came before, and it immediately changed the world.
In response to one of my first prompts, it gave me a charming little story about the adventures of a talented dancing monkey, and subsequently, an existential crisis. My bosses immediately assured me that my job was safe, for which I was very grateful. Even so, since that fateful day, I’ve had another 64 minor existential crises and 2 major ones.
It’s hard to resist using it
I’m not proud to admit this, but I’ll declare it nonetheless for transparency’s sake: I’ve used the shit out of ChatGPT. Used it for blogs, landing pages, social media posts, all sorts. Used it almost every damn day.
This is because I am a human, and humans have a habit of taking the path of least resistance. ChatGPT is smarter than me and faster than me – simple as that. It can collate all the information I need and translate into coherent, grammatically-perfect wads of text in seconds.
However. Very, very rarely, have I just copied and pasted from ChatGPT and left it at that. I always feel the need to edit. Sometimes I’ve spent so much time editing that it’d have been quicker to write the bloody thing from scratch. But I’m getting ahead of myself, because this is what the next section is about.
You have to edit
To quote Dan Davison (a person with long hair and who is a Director here at Bloody Marketing), copying and pasting straight from ChatGPT without making any edits is ‘bad juju’.
There are a few reasons for this. The first is because, quite frankly, it’s lazy and disingenuous to present AI-generated text as your own. The second is SEO-related; we don’t yet know how the relationship between AI-generated text and search algorithms will unfold, but chances are, it’s a love affair that won’t end well.
The third reason, and the most important to me personally, is that ChatGPT is a bad writer. Hear me out.
ChatGPT is a bad writer
ChatGPT is a bad writer. And I just repeated the same sentence three times in the space of four sentences. Criminal! ChatGPT would never make such a sloppy error. It’s too damn perfect.
Indeed, its grammar, spelling and syntax are flawless. It understands the rhythm of language, how each paragraph is a puzzle that needs putting together in such a way that enhances readability. It follows the rules to the letter, never showing weakness in the form of lexical inconsistencies, and never making a single, solitary typo…
My god, is it boring to read. It employs the same bland, mechanical style everytime, showing no flourish or flare, and using the same old buzzwords and phrases and easy-win writing techniques like the power of three (which is particularly irksome, as I used to be a huge fan of the power of three).
Yes, I know, you can prompt it to write like a pirate or a cowboy or whatever the fuck and it will mix up its style. But it even manages to make being a pirate sound boring. You can perform all the prompt-gymnastics you want, but it will ultimately always revert back to its dreary zone of uninspired comfort.
I suppose what I’m trying to say is that ChatGPT writes so well that it writes so badly. And I’m not even sure that sentence makes sense, but I’ll be damned if I’m deleting it.
It’ll turn your brain to goop
I speak from experience. There have been times when I’ve used ChatGPT a trifle too much, and then when I go to write something myself, I swear to christ, I can barely formulate a fucking sentence.
It’s recognisable from a mile off
After spending some time with ChatGPT, you start to notice patterns in how it writes. These patterns become telltale signs that reveal when someone has used ChatGPT to generate content without at least trying to make it their own.
Once you start developing an eye for AI-generated text, it’s hard to stop seeing it. Shit’s everywhere.
It’s becoming invisible
A lethal by-product of the previous two points – that it’s a boring writer and is easily recognisable – is reader apathy.
Whenever I see something that’s clearly been written by ChatGPT, my eyes instantly glaze over. Even if the subject matter itself is interesting, I just can’t bring myself to read something that I know will unfold in such a predictably dull way. I think this will happen to more and more people over time, eventually rendering AI-generated text invisible and pointless.
While it may sound like I’m clutching at the straws of job security here, this is clearly a big problemo for companies who become fully reliant on AI for marketing.
In fact, fuck it, I’d go so far as to say that copywriters are more important than ever – or at least people who can recognise just how shitty ChatGPT’s copy can be.
The novelty quickly wears off
This also applies to AI used in other disciplines, namely art and video. When AI-generated media first started making a name for itself, I was among the many in awe of what a robot could produce. Stories, poems, and fabulous, award-winning pieces of art. Even songs. All generated in seconds. Incredible, really.
But the novelty very quickly wore off. And now, I have exactly zero interest in what a robot can produce; I’m only interested in art, music and literature created by humans. I doubt I am alone in thinking this.
It’s missing something important
Let’s wrap this up. I could go on, but I think you get the jist. The bottom line, I suppose, is that ChatGPT really ain’t all that, and for the reasons mentioned and more, I personally am using it less and less.
I’ll conclude this article with a rare and potentially embarrassing attempt at being profound…
Great writers aren’t great writers because of their perfect grammar or their encyclopaedic knowledge of any given subject.
It’s because of their individual, unique, lived experience.
It’s because they’ve known good times and bad times. Success and failure. Happiness and heartache. They’ve had adventures and the highs and lows that come with them. They’ve weathered storms and bathed in the sun. They’ve had periods of downtime, and with them, opportunities to reflect. They are flawed human beings, prone to mistakes and naturally inclined towards compelling, beautiful imperfection.
And that’s why they can write things that capture the hearts and imaginations of their readers. Only a human can really, truly, sincerely speak to another human. And that’s why ChatGPT will never fully replace us.
At least until it gains general intelligence and sentience and learns to think and feel like a human.
At which point, we’re all fucked.