Should Writers Fear Chat GPT?
Fear of a looming AI takeover has been growing over the last decade as automation is now able to perform many human jobs.
From kiosks replacing cashiers to delivery drones replacing human couriers, it does seem highly likely that automation will disrupt many industries traditionally staffed with human workers. As ominous as this scenario may seem, there are many economic arguments to be made in favor of this AI-induced creative destruction.
In fact, I have spent much of my career writing about this topic and encouraging people to embrace innovation. But to be perfectly honest I couldn’t fully relate to the fear of being displaced by a robot because as a comms person, I never worried much about AI coming for my job,
Until Chat GPT came along.
Writing: A Job for Humans or Machine?
It is the job of a writer to encapsulate the human experience of feeling emotions. The best novels, articles, and op-eds are written by those who are able to take an issue or a topic and humanize it in a way to which readers can relate.
A computer isn’t sentient and as such, can never fully understand the complexities of a human emotion … or so I thought.
If you’re a writer, Chat GPT has probably been on your radar and if it hasn’t, it should.
Chat GPT is a platform called a “language model.” It takes in a large amount of text data which has made it capable of understanding and generating human language. All you need to do is ask it a question, and it will answer. But it doesn’t just give you search results like Google.
I asked Chat GPT to write a 500 word, SEO optimized blog post about the Fourth Amendment. Within seconds, I had a draft that was, much to my dismay, very well written. It didn’t read like a bot had drafted it and the prose was admittedly pretty good.
It was at this point I started understanding the fear of being replaced by a robot.
I explored further and had Chat GPT write me a press release, a poem, an outline for an article, and a business pitch all within a matter of seconds. I was even able to tell it to take on a “somber” tone or make the blog post it was writing “uplifting.”
A computer may not experience human emotions, but it did a pretty good job at mimicking them.
As I played around with the software and saw what it could do, all those articles I had written over the years about the benefits of AI taking human jobs were whirling in my head.
Was I a hypocrite to feel concerned now that my own job felt threatened?
Working with AI
I began to discuss the potential for Chat GPT to steal our jobs with other writers and I saw another side to the story I had been missing.
Chat GPT wasn’t working against us; it was a huge tool for writers. It could make us more efficient.
Every writer has experienced the agony of writer’s block when words fail you and inspiration is nowhere to be found. But imagine how useful it could be to type your topic into software like Chat GPT and let it generate a first draft.
I tried it. And while I didn’t use much of what it generated for me, it gave me a direction that I hadn’t previously considered. That little push obliterated my writer’s block and before I knew it, my article was written.
Most of my career has involved writing about economics and constitutional law. I am not an economist nor a constitutional attorney, so I often have to rely on the experts to help me understand a topic before I can draft an article.
Now, I ask Chat GPT.
If some legal principle is over my head, which is frequently the case, I start by simply asking it to explain something to me “like I’m five years old.” This has been one of the greatest tools for me as a writer as it helps decrease my research time considerably.
That being said, it has been incorrect in its definitions of legal terms a few times. So for now, I still run everything by a knowledgeable editor before publishing. But what it can do is still impressive, to say the least.
I’ve also noticed a sense of wanting to “one up” Chat GPT.
Whenever the computer drafts something for me, I feel the need to prove that I can write it better. I may use some of the information it gives me, but I always add my one-of-a-kind prose to make sure the piece still has my unique, human voice. This has really challenged me to up my game and in turn has made me a better writer.
After seeing how beneficial Chat GPT could be in helping me produce better work, I not only started appreciating the technology, I started to embrace and work with it.
As technology advances, our world will inevitably change and jobs will change. But that doesn’t mean our world is doomed to a future of mass unemployment.
As Henry Hazlitt wrote in the “Curse of The Machinery” chapter in his book Economics in One Lesson:
“The belief that machines cause unemployment, when held with any logical consistency, leads to preposterous conclusions. Not only must we be causing unemployment with every technological improvement we make today, but primitive man must have started causing it with the first efforts he made to save himself from needless toil and sweat.”
Will Chat GPT someday become so advanced it obliterates the need for human writers? I don’t think so. But when I have found myself stuck while writing a piece, it has definitely saved me from “needless toil and sweat.”
Instead of fearing this technology, play around with it and see how it can help make you a better writer.