Monday Musings 16 October 2023: The future of writers – according to ChatGPT

The recent Writers Guild of America strike cast a spotlight on the future of all writers, not only the scribes ensconced in Hollywood. Among the central issues were concerns about redundancy and exploitation. In their usual contractual negotiations that take place every three years, writers had asked studios not to use AI-generated scripts but the studios refused, sparking the flame of what’s now been referred to as the first workplace showdown between AI and humans. And the humans won. For now.

Let’s admit it, ChatGPT has shattered the world as we writers know it. We’ve slogged our whole lives to perfect our craft, raised the bar time and again for ourselves, enriched and expanded our brains with infinite inputs of data, and become versatile wordsmiths up for any task. Then along came this young upstart – and now everyone’s a writer!

There does seem to be some light in this AI darkness, however. I recently saw a post on LinkedIn where global AI company Toloka, headquartered in Amsterdam, has been recruiting freelance writers from all over the world to craft copy to be the voice of AI. The advert listed the writers’ responsibilities as follows:

“You will use your writing skills to create text covering a genuinely wide and varied range of topics. Working within our style guide, you will create responses that will form the ‘voice’ for future AI. You will create original, helpful, honest, harmless text responses and you’ll ensure that your work is fact-checked by verifiable sources”.

This concept got me excited. The integration of human writers into the AI content creation process means they will be mapping the future of copy in this brave new world, and not machines. Could this be the next phase for us? One where we remain relevant and empowered, and where human creativity and technology happily coexist, enriching the content landscape?

As any halfway decent writer would do, I decided to interview the source. ChatGPT had some comforting responses to my burning writers’ questions, but I couldn’t help wondering if interviewer manipulation was part of its skill set… 

ChatGPT, what’s your opinion about the future of human writers?

“While AI can produce vast amounts of content, it cannot replicate the creativity and originality of the human mind”.

Me: We still have time to use this to our advantage because the creation of robots capable of emotions is still in its infancy. (Emotions lead to creativity so guess where that’s headed…)

ChatGPT went on candidly: “AI’s efficiency comes at a cost. AI-generated content lacks the warmth, emotion, and authenticity of human-written text. This results in a homogenised content landscape, where AI-produced pieces can often be identified by their lack of nuance.”

So how do we strike a balance between AI and professional writing?

“The narrative needn’t be AI versus writers,” ChatGPT pointed out logically. “Rather than viewing AI as a threat, it can be seen as a collaborative tool. By handling mundane tasks, AI allows writers to focus on creativity, adding value that machines can’t replicate by producing content that resonates on a human level.”

Me: Nice! Another punt for humans!

ChatGPT went on to channel C-3PO’s lecturing tone for one last flourish:
“The dynamic tech landscape demands adaptability. Writers must continuously learn about the tools at their disposal. By staying abreast of AI advancements, they can harness its power while maintaining their unique voice.”

Me: Well, I can’t argue that. Learning is growing and staying relevant.

As they say: “If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em”.

There’s no doubt that by leveraging ChatGPT’s strengths and recognising its limitations, our craft and processes can be improved. But ultimately, we remain the custodians and creators of content that inspires and moves the soul as only human-to-human communication can.

Mindful Musings

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