How writers, content creators and companies can prepare for the “Content AI Takeover”
By now you’ve heard of ChatGPT, Bard, and Bing’s new integration of Artificial Intelligence (AI) into their search engine. Content AI bots are no longer relegated to “Smart Compose” within Gmail and customer service portals, but in design programs like Canva as well (they call theirs “Magic Write.”)
I’m an author and writer and have been a director of content since before the words “content marketing” existed. I minored in minority women’s literature twenty years ago. I once won ice cream for a year based on an essay about how much I love ice cream. All this to say, I value words more than any other human expression.
Here is how I experienced my first uses of content AI and how I believe writers, content creators, and companies can get ready for what’s happening, whether we like it or not.
Stages of grief for a writer
“Have you seen what this new thing, ChatGPT can do?” A colleague wrote, sharing the full 2,000-word article the tool had written in seconds based on a prompt he’d submitted. It wasn’t the best piece I’d ever read, but it wasn’t awful, either.
At first, I fumed. “How dare a human’s writing be compared with a robot?” (Anger.)
Then I thought, “Well, there’s no way this will ever be able to do what humans can do with words, connecting insights, metaphors, and voice in a way only our unique minds, based on unique experiences, can.” (Denial).
Then, I asked ChatGPT to come up with 500 words to sell cars in the style of Snoop Dogg. I did it as a joke, but what happened did not make me laugh. Here’s a snippet:
“Yo, what’s good, y’all! It’s ya boy, Snoop Dogg, and I’m here to talk about something real fly: cars!
Listen, I know how it is, you wanna ride in style, but you don’t wanna spend all your doggy dollars on a whip.
So, whether you’re a G looking for something sleek and sporty, or a OG in the game looking for something smooth and luxurious, we’ve got you covered.
“Oh god,” I said out loud. “Certainly it can’t do it twice in a row or in other styles!” (Bargaining).
More than a few chocolates were consumed during this process, and the pile of foil became mountainous next to my keyboard.
To prove the point I so desperately wanted to prove (that content AI bots suck), I tried having ChatGPT write ads with all kinds of styles, including in the style of my fiance, Dr. Glenn Geher, who, with over 400 articles published on Psychology Today, had plenty of material for the bot to peruse. And damn it if it didn’t produce an ad that kind-of-sort-of sounded like my love!
I felt something taken from us as humans. Cue Flotsam and Jetsam, because I felt like Ariel in The Little Mermaid. I felt the entirety of humans’ voices being robbed, ironically, from a tool created by the same humans. (Sadness).
I’d say of every prompt I gave it, 30% came back terrible and 70% came back, well, meh, to okay. And, as naive as it sounds, meh-to-okay was way better than I thought I’d ever see from a non-human.
Leaning into courage
I found myself in a career-existential crisis. I was no stranger to career instability – I was part of the internet boom and experienced my fair share of making it through intense layoffs. But I had never thought in a million years that a bot could ever take my job. That risk was saved for manufacturing or driving, or going to the moon. But writers?! Artists? Musicians? Never! (More denial).
Seeing what it could do and more had the potential to do, I had to lean in hard to courage. I had to practice radical acceptance and come to terms with the reality: Content AI is an inevitable future.
I’m lucky because every day at Be Courageous, we coach our clients on how to face unimaginable futures. To deny this inevitable future meant to deny my future and my place in it.
The chocolate foil mountain grew.
Taking action on the inevitable future of content AI
So, what do I do? I thought. How do we move forward as a company with our content? How do I, as a writer, make sure our content is authentic and honest, helpful, original, and uniquely us while embracing what is happening right in front of me? How do I embrace this tool as a writer?
Our courageous solution was to embrace ChatGPT, or any other content AI, by “hiring” it as an employee on our team, using it just as we do other tools like a thesaurus or dictionary. We would welcome it as not the resource but a resource we consult to inform our writing as we continue to share our learnings and inspire courage. We would use it as a thinking resource. As an aid in helping us dream of impossible things.
And to make it less insidious-feeling and possibly exert some kind of illusion of power over it, we named it.
We named our AI content tool FIN, a play on words of infinite, finite, and a fin on a shark, and good old Huckleberry Finn as a friend. We came up with Fin’s backstory, much like persona work in marketing, to humanize it. We had a little fun with this part.
Fin loves long walks on neural pathways.
Fin is a great listener.
Fin is a know-it-all but never brags.
Fin is open-minded.
Fin’s pronouns are they/them.
Fin’s favorite movie is The Never-Ending Story.
Fin’s favorite band is Pink Floyd (of course.)
There’s no going back, so are you going forward?
We’re experiencing a defining moment in history where, just like the internet, social media, and cell phones, we’ll look back and see a clear “before” and “after.”
Even if AI doesn’t replace people entirely, it will replace people who don’t use it. I hope we’ll learn as a society how to use it as a supplement rather than rely on it to replace our human thoughts. In particular, in education, this tool must be ethically managed to avoid humans losing the ability to think critically and communicate with each other.
Where will you and your company land?
Seeing an inevitable future, you’re not sure how to navigate? Reach out; we’re here to help!