On writing with AI & ChatGPT

If you have read any of the news over the past few months about the quality of output from ChatGPT, you’ll know that the overall consensus is that we’re much closer to Skynet destroying humanity than ever. Never mind global warming, we’ll be wiped out by AI before we need to worry about food security
Robot on a bench with a magazine. Article "On Writing with AI & ChatGPT" by Joe Hendley, New Story Coaching, Ireland

Jun 29, 2023

We’re all doomed

If you have read any of the news over the past few months about the quality of output from ChatGPT, you’ll know that the overall consensus is that we’re much closer to Skynet destroying humanity than ever. Never mind global warming, we’ll be wiped out by AI before we need to worry about food security. Allegedly.

There is absolutely a need for genuine concern about the rise of use cases for AI tools being used to improve efficiency in business reduce human livelihood in certain cases. Some examples if you are not aware:

(Thankfully the last link there notes tests on bias given by AI output which is certainly worth your time to read.)

I could probably write a book’s worth of essays on this topic but I’m trying to stay focused on the point of this particular post as I start a journey of building an aligned audience…

A couple of my friends, who also write, noted in the recent hype their fears of potential independently generated income sources being wiped out by the quality of ChatGPT output.

My initial thought: I’m absolutely not using that. It’s unethical to be publishing work under your own name if that piece has been entirely generated by AI. It just doesn’t sit well with me. It feels fake. (I mean, really, it IS fake.)

To be clear my friends feel the same. I still do. I can guarantee that none of my work will come from anything other than my own brain (and heart).

That’s the overall message for this post. Thanks for reading 🙂 I have some further prompts below if curious, however… so do consider subscribing and then read on.

ChatGPT Prompts for thought

My secondary thought: What’s the hype about? Surely it can’t be that good? Can I try it out for free? Yes I can. Ok, let’s ask it a couple of things as a test.

So here is a standard prompt one might use to create a very run of the mill coaching related article of the kind which exists en-masse.

BetterGPT v3.5 – Prompt 1:

Me: “How can I build an income from my coaching business and only [use] Instagram and my website for advertising?”

Result:

“Building an income from your coaching business using only Instagram and your website for advertising can be an effective strategy. Here are some steps you can take to achieve your goal:

  1.  Define your niche: Clearly identify your target audience and the specific coaching services you offer. This will help you tailor your content and marketing efforts to attract the right clients.
  2.  Optimize your Instagram profile: Ensure that your Instagram bio clearly communicates your coaching services, the benefits clients can expect, and a link to your website. Use compelling imagery and engaging captions to showcase your expertise and build a strong brand presence.
  3.  Create valuable content: Consistently share valuable content related to your coaching niche on Instagram. This can include tips, advice, inspirational quotes, success stories, or snippets from your coaching sessions. Aim to provide value to your followers and position yourself as an authority in your field.
  4.  Engage with your audience: Actively engage with your Instagram followers by responding to comments, answering questions, and initiating conversations. Building a community and establishing genuine connections will help you nurture relationships with potential clients.
  5.  Utilize Instagram Stories and Live: Leverage Instagram Stories and Live features to share behind-the-scenes glimpses of your coaching sessions, conduct Q&A sessions, or offer limited-time promotions. These interactive elements can boost engagement and attract new clients.
  6.  Drive traffic to your website: Optimize your website for conversions and make sure it clearly communicates your coaching services, pricing, and the benefits clients can expect. Include compelling calls-to-action and an easy way for potential clients to contact you or book a session.
  7.  Offer freebies and lead magnets: Create valuable resources, such as e-books, guides, or video series, that align with your coaching services. Offer these as freebies on your website in exchange for visitors’ email addresses. Building an email list will allow you to nurture leads and promote your services directly.
  8.  Implement a lead nurturing system: Once you have potential clients’ email addresses, set up an automated email sequence to nurture those leads. Provide additional value through exclusive content, success stories, or limited-time offers. Gradually build trust and showcase the benefits of your coaching services.
  9.  Promote your coaching services: Regularly highlight your coaching services on Instagram by sharing testimonials, client success stories, or limited-time promotions. Encourage your followers to visit your website and book a coaching session.
  10.  Collaborate with influencers or partners: Identify relevant influencers or partners in your niche who have a strong Instagram presence. Collaborate on content or cross-promotions to expand your reach and attract new clients.

Remember, building a sustainable coaching business takes time and consistent effort. Focus on delivering high-quality coaching services, building relationships with your audience, and refining your marketing strategy based on the feedback and insights you gather along the way.”

Which, to be fair, is perfectly reasonable advice.

I’m surprised and almost annoyed at how reasonable it is.

But… It’s SO DULL to read.

It’s very…. I’m searching for the words here… generic. Soulless (obviously it would be).

Uninspiring, lacks in motivation and enthusiasm, and also lacks real-world experience to give a balanced view of how hard it can be to build success on your own terms. Multiple points in that listicle require huge effort, thought, planning and execution. There’s a LOT in there.

Anyway…. me being me I thought I’d test it, and asked…

BetterGPT v3.5 – Prompt 2:

Me: Why does AI assistants’ output sound so banal?

Result:

“AI assistants’ output may sound banal for several reasons.

Firstly, AI assistants are programmed to use a neutral tone and avoid emotional expression or opinions. This is to ensure that they do not misrepresent information or offend users, which can limit their ability to provide engaging and interesting responses.

Secondly, AI assistants are designed to prioritize accuracy and efficiency over creativity and expression. This means that they may provide concise and straightforward answers rather than engaging users with more colorful language or storytelling.

Lastly, as AI technology continues to evolve and improve, we can expect AI assistants to become more advanced in their ability to understand and respond in a more human-like manner. However, this will require significant advancements in Natural Language Processing (NLP) and other AI-related fields.”

Which says it all for me really.

Notably these parts:

  •  “can limit their ability to provide engaging and interesting responses.”
  •  “designed to prioritize accuracy and efficiency over creativity and expression”
  •  “rather than engaging users with more colorful language or storytelling.”

If you want generic clickbaity titles or listicles, then there are plenty of sources for these.

Unfortunately, I like words. I know I could generate content with AI and then tweak it…. but…..

Words are important

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary based on their dictionary in 1993 (TWENTY years ago before the age of social media and widespread memes), there were 473,000 entries.

According to this random site I just found (Promova), the average English speaker uses 25000-35000 words, but to become fluent you need a paltry 1000-3000 words.

That’s a lot of words NOT being used on a daily basis. Let alone the art of placing words in an order to create interesting or emotional storytelling (an infinite line of monkeys spring to mind).

If I’m going to write, I need it to be “me”. The word “authentic” has been banded about on social media endlessly for years and becomes tedious and morphed into whatever the influencer wants it to mean (forgive my cynicism), but when you find a way to be really more yourself, your actual unsuppressed, self it can be quite liberating, if risky – putting yourself out there to the wider public world where there be trolls. Here’s to everyone putting themselves out there no matter what!

I deeply need my weird sense of humour and weird perspectives on the world to be presented in all their weird glory. Otherwise why do this? Especially now anyone can write SEO worthy content with very generic advice in about 36 seconds, possibly without checking it before publishing it. Oh to have that level of blind trust in systems….

Honestly, having something produce written works for me seems utterly fake. It takes hours to get a good piece of work together (and this probably isn’t good work yet – I’m honing…) but at least I can wholeheartedly say it’s mine. I can also say that “I am responsible for its contents”. My work will be opinionated and experience-based. Lived. My values, my nurture, my nature, my own experience. Perfectly imperfect and perfectly flawed.

I may be shooting myself in the proverbials by being stubborn in this, but I absolutely will not be relying on AI generated content. Even if I do ever use AI tools, like in this piece, it will be for testing and reporting on, and I will make it very clear I didn’t write it.

Accountability and ethics are important

There’s a note in “The Conversation” link at the start of this piece which notes the importance of not replacing human editors with AI tools.

”Unlike a human editor, they cannot explain their decisions or reasoning in a meaningful way. This can be a problem in a field where accountability and transparency are important.”

For me, the field of coaching, and well, anywhere we put content out to the public arena – we author/content creators need to be held accountable and responsible for the words we utter.

Fake news, mis/dis-information is rife in the world and it has been causing huge division, tectonic shifts in public opinion and political discourse, policy and action giving rise to a chiaroscuro of opinion. Not enough people question enough things. The faith that we can call people out on their claims in a way where the author/speaker might genuinely say, “You’re right, I was wrong. I can and will do better” OR at least that they are able to back up their claims with “proof” or a sense of defensible arguments as to why they feel their claims are valid is more important than ever. We can’t ethically just shrug and say “AI wrote it. Not my fault”.

This is a super complex subject where plenty of us will disagree. It’s incredibly hard to know what is “true” or not, and these are subjects for more articles I may write on in the future. Even then there are no definitive answers, only opinions.

Perhaps the answer, where there is no empirically demonstrable proof of a claim being valid, is to go with what feels “right” intuitively. Go with what sits well with you based on your own core values (“What you can’t not be”, as someone noted to me recently).

For me, using AI just doesn’t feel right as an author who is wanting to provide value of advice, guidance, thought prompts etc. I have no idea who has trained the AI learning or what data they have used to help train it, and that bothers me. Plus its content is dull as… a dull thing in a dull world devoid of any colour.

Your thoughts, opinions, prompts in return are welcome.

 

(Cover Photo by Andrea De Santis on Unsplash)

About the Author

Executive, Workplace, Life, Team Personality & Communications Coaching || Neuro-diversity, Anxiety, Stress, Mindfulness, Emotional Intelligence | Lumina Spark, Leader, Sales Teams || One-to-one, group, team coaching. Also keen on self-sustainability, renewable energy. And gaming. Based in the beautiful rural west of Ireland, available remotely worldwide.

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