I want to make a solemn promise to you, right here at the top, in writing: I, the human copywriter, wrote this. All of it. Well, all of it except for the example of ChatGPT output that I’ve included for context or reference at the very bottom of the piece. But have no fear, I have explicitly indicated that bit so you won’t have any sneaking suspicion that the machines are pulling the steel wool over your eyes…
Meet the bot
There are several chatbots currently being developed, with ChatGPT being the most popular at the moment. ChatGPT is an AI chatbot created by OpenAI. It holds (seemingly) engaging conversations that make one start to suspect that there’s actually some sentience there. It is uncannily good at matching your tone and providing whatever you ask of it, as long as what you ask for falls into ChatGPT’s programmed parameters.
While it seems like ChatGPT is thinking and reasoning out elaborate answers to your deep questions, it’s really just formulating responses based on what it scoured from a portion of the internet (up to 2021 at the time of this article), essentially filling in the blanks as accurately as the internet suggests it should. You know, the same internet that has been created and fleshed out by…humans.
And we all know humans—we clever monkeys that ever so occasionally get things wrong or let our own personal slants creep into everything. So as it turns out, ChatGPT has some accuracy and bias issues, among other flaws.
Now if you’re a content or copywriter, you’ve likely been fretting that our days are numbered or essentially over; the machines have won and there’s nothing to do but seek out a new career that won’t be absorbed by the latest brilliant technological advance.
First things first everyone—take a deep breath or three. Now listen to this good news:
A.) You’ve still got time. As good as ChatGPT is, it’s not that good…yet
As an experiment, I asked ChatGPT to generate a piece of copywriting for me on a particular subject. I asked for 1000 words, gave it the topic and sent it. What I received in return was surprisingly good in some ways, and terrible in others.
ChatGPT cranks out some copy mighty fast. It’s truly a marvel to see, and it happens in real time so you can literally watch it scroll across the screen as it writes its response to your request. This is assuming the servers aren’t already full, in which case it will politely tell you to come back later when the demand isn’t as high unless you spring for the paid version.
The copy it creates seems pretty decent at first glance, and if you don’t love what it writes, just ask it to do it again. I almost felt bad asking it to do it again and again, like I was hurting its feelings (this is the profound effect it has on a person—the human in you half-thinks ChatGPT is alive and has feelings).
Though after asking it to rewrite the same article a half-dozen times, you start to see the same generic copywriting, slightly rephrased, without a hint of wit or nuance. The copywriting itself reads like a tenth-grader wrote it (a tenth grader with a 2.0 GPA no less). ChatGPT re-uses words and wants to end every piece with “In conclusion…,” which doesn’t exactly wow the reader after the first one.
Another issue is that search engines can currently tell if something has been written by AI, and will dock points and drop it in the page rankings. Human content is still the gold standard, and search engines can tell.
Obviously, all of this will improve over time. However, the more troubling thing that people have discovered is how often ChatGPT is just plain wrong. It will confidently state things as facts which are demonstrably not. Which leads us directly to the next point:
B.) AI chatbots like ChatGPT don’t exactly drive themselves…yet
Think tractors. They didn’t put farmers out of business, they expanded farming potential by making many tasks easier and more efficient. Same with CNC (Computerized Numerical Control) machining. There was a time that people thought that CNC machining would put every factory drill press operator out on the streets, though it turns out you still need skilled people to program and maintain the machines and the computers that run them.
Manufacturing got faster, more accurate and more efficient, and businesses could expand and grow as they saw fit.
I tried over and over to get ChatGPT to generate a piece of writing that would be worthy of professional copywriting submission, and over and over it produced the same bland copy, slightly reworded each time.
Next I asked it to create an outline for the same article, which it happily and immediately obliged. The outline was actually pretty decent. So I asked it to create an article based on that outline. The copywriting that followed was much like the earlier writing, except now it essentially created complete “articles” for each outline point, with intros and conclusions for all, rife with repetition.
Through trial and error, I finally figured out how to instruct ChatGPT in such a way as to have it churn out a cohesive piece of copywriting, though it mostly ended up resembling the first draft, taking me back to square one. Had I written the piece myself without any chatbot help I could have written, edited and sent off the piece in all of the time it took to get a weak article written by the machine.
Worse yet, (and as expected, based on other reviews of the bot) I found several glaring inaccuracies in the writing. When I asked ChatGPT about them, it essentially shrugged and said sorry. You simply cannot trust chatbots to produce perfection—everything needs to be crosschecked and researched. There was even a spelling error, where it had dropped the last letter of a very simple word. The word was even underlined in red, indicating that the program knew it had made a spelling error and yet did not correct it. Curious.
Despite all of that, I did find some definitively useful parts about ChatGPT:
C.) Yet…believe it or not, chatbots can help your copywriting business
While I would never (at this point) trust a chatbot to generate a complete article, I did find it helpful for a certain amount of inspiration. The writing ChatGPT created was banal and riddled with inaccuracies, but it actually helped at jogging my own mind and shaking loose ideas. If you have a bit of writer’s block it can help restart your brain.
It’s almost like having someone to bounce ideas off of. I wouldn’t ask a colleague to outright pen a piece for me, but I absolutely would ask them what they might think of a topic or how to approach it. It can act as a writer’s block icebreaker. Just the simple act of seeing what AI generated gave me my own ideas on how to proceed.
Well, dude, we just don’t know. As the technology improves the copywriting will get better and better, likely getting to the point where it’s indiscernible from (or better than) human writing
However, that day is not here. Yet. But that doesn’t mean that we can’t use this tool to our advantage without having to sell our souls to the mainframe.
It is important to face the fact that it is here to stay, and we can use it to our advantage if we understand it and work with it. Sweeping it under the table and ignoring it will not do you any favors. With some practice you can make it work for you, not against you, and secure your future as a professional copywriter.
Okay, bot, show us what you’ve got
(**And here it is:I asked ChatGPT to write an approximately 1000 word blog post on whether or not it will replace human writers. The following was its unedited response)
As an AI language model, ChatGPT has been designed to generate text that is indistinguishable from that produced by humans. It is capable of generating coherent and grammatically correct sentences, and can also understand and respond to natural language queries. However, the question of whether ChatGPT will eventually replace human writers is a complex one that requires careful consideration of several factors.
One factor to consider is the purpose of writing. Writing can serve many different functions, from providing information to entertaining readers. While ChatGPT can certainly generate text that is informative or entertaining, it lacks the emotional depth and creativity that humans bring to their writing. For example, a novel written by ChatGPT may be grammatically correct and contain a coherent plot, but it may lack the emotional depth and character development that readers expect from a human author.
Another factor to consider is the quality of writing. While ChatGPT can generate text that is grammatically correct and coherent, it is not always able to produce writing that is of a high quality. This is because ChatGPT is limited by the quality of the data that it is trained on. If the data it is trained on is of a low quality, then the text it generates will also be of a low quality. In contrast, human writers are able to use their creativity and expertise to produce high-quality writing, even when the data they are working with is of a low quality.
A third factor to consider is the level of customization. While ChatGPT is capable of generating text that is tailored to a specific topic or query, it is not able to produce writing that is customized to the individual needs and preferences of a reader. For example, if a reader wants a piece of writing that is humorous, inspirational, or thought-provoking, ChatGPT may not be able to deliver this level of customization. In contrast, human writers are able to tailor their writing to the specific needs and preferences of their readers, making their writing more engaging and effective.
A fourth factor to consider is the potential impact on the job market. If ChatGPT were to replace human writers, it could potentially lead to a significant loss of jobs in the writing industry. While AI-generated writing may be faster and cheaper than human writing, it is important to consider the social and economic impact of this shift. It is also worth noting that while AI-generated writing may be more efficient, it may not necessarily be better than human writing in terms of quality or effectiveness.
A fifth factor to consider is the ethical implications of AI-generated writing. If ChatGPT were to replace human writers, it would raise questions about the authenticity and originality of the writing. It may also lead to concerns about plagiarism, as the AI-generated text could be used without proper attribution or acknowledgement. Additionally, the use of AI-generated writing may raise concerns about the accountability and responsibility of the writer, as it is not clear who should be held responsible for the content generated by ChatGPT.
In conclusion, while ChatGPT is a powerful language model that is capable of generating text that is indistinguishable from that produced by humans, it is not likely to replace human writers anytime soon. While AI-generated writing may be faster and cheaper than human writing, it lacks the emotional depth, creativity, and customization that humans bring to their writing. Additionally, the potential impact on the job market, the ethical implications of AI-generated writing, and the limitations of the technology all suggest that ChatGPT is not a complete replacement for human writers. However, there is no doubt that ChatGPT and other AI language models will continue to play an important role in the writing industry, particularly in areas such as content generation, translation, and transcription.
Matthew Ogden is a Minneapolis-based copywriter and content writer and editor. He’s written for national retailers and lobster roll companies alike. When not writing he can be found nose deep in a book, writing and performing music, or nerding out about guitar tone.