It almost feels like ChatGPT exploded out of nowhere, and just like the factory workers of old, everyone’s shouting that it’s here to take our jobs. But, like, is it really?
I’m going to start with a confession. I didn’t use ChatGPT to write this blog.
Did I consider using it? Sure, I use it to brainstorm ideas regularly, and in my spare time when I’m trying to become a world-famous novelist (jk but also sorta not jk), I even get it to help me with my world-building research.
Do I feel like I’m training a tool to take over my job?
Do I feel like I’m being disingenuous to my creative profession?
Hmm, this is a tough one. But given people probably felt the same way when we moved from handwriting to typewriters, I’m gonna go with “no” too.
The justification is simple. When I write, the ideas come to me as I go. For example, the start of this blog has changed three times now, because as I’ve been researching, what I’ve wanted to say has changed.
Sometimes this process works really well and I can smash out a blog in under an hour. Sometimes, it doesn’t work so well. I end up staring at a blank screen, or rewriting the same few sentences over and over, usually for what feels like hours.
(It’s really great to have a tool like ChatGPT available when that happens).
I’m not going to explain what ChatGPT is. There’s an overabundance of content on the subject, so I’m sure you’ll find something if you need context. You could also go ask it yourself!
But honestly, if you’re reading this blog you probably already know what it is. And you might be a writer, and you might be terrified of the future.
Well, keep reading my friend, and hopefully I can ease your worries.
How is AI Being Used in Marketing?
I read a post on Smart Insights that said AI in marketing isn’t as widespread as might be expected. In fact, only 13% of companies were using AI and machine learning for marketing at the time of the survey.
The article then went on to say that 38% of respondents are planning to deploy AI within 12 months, however 49% of businesses still have no plans to implement AI or machine learning to support their marketing.
For an industry that always seems to be across the latest trends, this figure is surprising. Although, with a tool like ChatGPT available to everyone for free (at the moment anyway), I do wonder if AI adoption will see a significant increase.
It certainly seems that way on LinkedIn. Every second post in my newsfeed is related to ChatGPT. When I first saw these posts, I was instantly dismissive. Maybe that’s because I’ve witnessed fads like this come and go before, and assumed it was another one. Maybe it’s simply because I got tired of seeing the same posts over and over again.
But after I finally caved and checked out the tool, I started taking note of what was actually being said. A lot of the posts in my feed are from SEO specialists, offering tips on how to use it to help with keyword research, writing title tags, creating content briefs and more.
This is interesting because there are those out there who believe that with ChatGPT, there won’t be any need for search engines…
The Purpose of Search Engines
Another post I’ve read (this one by Nabil Alouani on Medium) talks about how Google was originally built to solve the problem of looking for information.
Back in the day, “Archives” didn’t refer to a bunch of files sitting on cloud storage. It was the name of an office you could find in every company. Whenever you needed past info, you had to go in there and sift through hundreds of files, ledgers, and reports.
Then Google came along and took that burden off our shoulders…
The flip side? We became intellectually lazy. We don’t even think about our questions anymore. We just type them into a search bar – and we’re so happy with the results we rarely look past the first few lines.
Alouani goes on to say that Google doesn’t give you the answer, it only shows you where to find the most accurate ones. We still need to use our brains to formulate the answer – but now that AI can do that for us, perhaps Google’s time is finally over.
I read this out to my husband and because he is the type to question everything, he fundamentally disagreed with this take – arguing that most people will still want to qualify whether what the AI is telling them is right or not…
But given how easy misinformation spreads across social media because people don’t verify whether what they’re reading is accurate or not, maybe Nabil Alouani has got a point.
But will ChatGPT be the death of Google?
Short answer? Unlikely.
While I concede that Alouani has a point, anyone who believes that ChatGPT and other AI tools will “kill” Google should take a look at all the articles people wrote years ago about how Voice Search tools like Siri and Alexa were going to do the same thing.
Think about how you use Google. You enter a keyword and results appear. Those results vary depending, not only by what you’ve written, but also by what you mean. Yes, I’m talking about intent and the four buckets:
- Informational: how to, why, history of, what x means
- Navigational: brand name, location
- Transactional: reviews, best, top 10, x vs x
- Commercial: buy, coupon, deals
While the informational category could easily be answered conversationally, answering the navigational or commercial categories in this way would prove more difficult.
As for transactional, perhaps some people would be happy to read this from ChatGPT, but as it's an area closely connected to social proof, I think many would still prefer to review the search results and visit the recommended websites.
I should point out that Search Engine Land reported that 80% of searches are informational, which is definitely a big slice of the pie. But I don’t believe that all of these results could be produced purely by an AI chatbot. I also suspect they’re classifying informational and transactional together.
Lastly, we’re forgetting one fundamental thing: ChatGPT and tools like it will (most likely) eventually cost money for the end user. Google is free.
How Does Google Feel About AI-Generated Content?
At the moment, Google has reportedly advised that using AI-generated content is okay, provided it still meets E-E-A-T (experience, expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness) guidelines. That being said, the company did also advise you should include a disclaimer if you have used AI-generated content.
The company’s view will likely change with time, as people move past the hype of AI-generated content. It’s also important to note that Google has a stake in the AI-game, and their views will likely be interconnected with the performance of their ChatGPT challenger, Bard.
What Benefits Does AI Have for Writers?
There was a post in my LinkedIn feed that perfectly summarised how I feel about ChatGPT:
It’s an amazing productivity tool. It is not a writing tool.
The author of the post asked one of the “big AI writing engines” a question: “Can you describe meeting your first born child?”
It answered it suitably enough, but when you read the author’s version… the impact was totally different.
The post in question can be found here:
He goes on to say that he uses AI as an aid for sourcing and organising ideas. It can give writers the dots to help us start writing, but it cannot connect the dots like we can.
One of my favourite songwriters, Nick Cave, feels similarly when it comes to using ChatGPT for the end product. Unleashing in an open letter after a fan had sent him a song written by ChatGPT in “the style of Nick Cave”, he explained that writing is “a blood and guts business… It requires my humanness.”
He said a lot more than that too, making it no secret that he despises the entire concept of AI-generated content, so it’s likely he won’t be using it for productivity any time soon.
Predictions for the Future
In short, the use of AI tools like ChatGPT can bring many benefits – but it’s important to recognise their limitations.
At the end of the day, AI tools are only as good as the data they’ve been trained on. This is exactly what we saw when Bard cost Google $100 billion in market value after it produced a factual error in its first demo. It’s also what people are now starting to realise about ChatGPT and the latest AI on the block, Bing AI.
I’ll finish this blog with the same answer I’ve given others when I’m asked whether I’m worried about my writing profession: If anything this is a great thing for writers, because as we get inundated with generic AI-driven content, it’ll be important to stand out even more. People will start to see the value in unique perspectives, ideas and tones of voice, in true storytelling, and writers will get to write more of the things they love – and less of the generic things they’re often asked to do.
So I repeat, don’t fear the reaper. Take advantage of it.