Yesterday, I was searching for some sheet music for a student, and played them a MIDI sample of a piece I was about to buy for them. You should have seen the confused look on that student’s face when the music began playing through my computer speakers! I don’t think they had ever heard a MIDI file. They recognized immediately that this was not a human being playing, and they were NOT into it.
If you’re a professional music teacher, you’ve likely had the discussion with your peers about whether or not an electronic instrument can replace an acoustic.
Here’s a fun fact: if you’ve ever played a digital keyboard, you’ve actually played a musical instrument that is an ancestor of a product inspired by this very argument.
The K250 synthesizer/sampler was created as the result of a bet between musician Stevie Wonder & inventor Ray Kurzweil.
Did it sound exactly like a piano? No, but it was 1984. We’ve made strides and continue to – because that is what is in our nature!
Even more interestingly, questions of how machines and technology can potentially mimic humans have been around for a long time.
“Can machines think?” was a question posed way back in 1950 by Alan Turing. He quickly determined that this was an “absurd” question to ask – and instead changed his focus to the idea of whether or not a computer can be mistaken for a human by a human. He even went as far to invent a test (the Turing test) that could potentially determine the “intelligence” of a machine.
In his 1999 Ray Kurzweil (yep-of electronic keyboard fame) wrote a book called The Age of Spiritual Machines: When Computers Exceed Human Intelligence. In this book, he explores the future of AI using the “Law of Accelerating Returns”. This is the concept that technology increases and evolves predictably and exponentially. Kurzweil makes predictions (of which many have come true) about how technology would be used in the future decades. Most interestingly, he delves into the subject of “the singularity” – the time when the differences between human and computer are no longer discernible.
. . . here we are, in 2023, asking what is essentially the same question: “Will machines replace humans?”
Only now, the technology required to explore this question is no longer theoretical. As Kurzweil predicted, tech has indeed “increased” exponentially! Computers are no longer the size of a building. They are in your hand. You don’t have to be a millionaire to afford one. Technology is accessible and available. I encourage you to take a moment to let the last 30 years sink in and appreciate that absolute magic.
“Once a computer achieves a human level of ability in understanding abstract concepts, recognizing patterns, and other attributes of human intelligence, it will be able to apply this ability to a knowledge base of all human-acquired—and machine-acquired—knowledge.”
– Ray Kurzweil
It’s in our nature to want to innovate and to create tools and tech that will make our lives easier. We will always gravitate towards that. It’s important to remember that we have a responsibility to understand how to use these tools safely, ethically, and responsibly. I personally believe that it is a good idea to introduce new technologies slowly into already existing systems.
So let’s talk about the elephant in the room: ChatGPT.
Chat GPT is amazing. No doubt. I had tinkered with AI content generators in the past, but I will admit that my jaw dropped when I first tested it out back in November. Here is a list of a few things off the top of my head that I asked Chat GPT to do for me when I was testing it:
- write a 5 paragraph essay about the significance of Poland in Chopin’s music
- write lyrics to the tune of Jingle Bells about how piano teachers are tired of hearing Jingle Bells
- create 30 composition prompts
- explain how to build a c major chord
- rewrite marketing content to be more interesting
It did all of these things and many more with decent accuracy. If a reader was not used to seeing AI generated content, they could likely easily be fooled!
After more hours than I care to admit of “talking” to an artificial being, I asked Chat GPT some more difficult questions that rely on critical thinking based on obscure facts that I know to be true. Predictably, this is where I began finding inaccuracies and problems – and BIAS. Additionally, this thing LOVES to repeat itself!
Do I think the responses from ChatGPT were better than something a human could write?
No. But man, it came close.
In 2023, is ChatGPT useful for writing content for websites?
Short answer? Yes, but only with extreme caution and the help of a human being.
Before you go running off to use conversational AI to rewrite all of the content on your website, it’s important to:
- already have a working knowledge of how to write effectively for the internet
- know why you are creating the content
- accept and know the current limitations of ChatGPT and other AI
- have an understanding of SEO standards
The truth is – in my opinion, we are still a LONG way from computers being able to completely replace humans, if they ever do. Kurzweil’s prediction is that the singularity will arrive around 2045. We aren’t there yet.
That said, it’s kind of rude to write an entire article about someone without asking their opinion – so I did want to take a moment to ask ChatGPT in its own words if it “thinks” it can replace a human as a copywriter. Here is its answer:
ChatGPT is a powerful language generation model that can produce high-quality text. However, it is not capable of replacing a human writer entirely as it lacks the creativity, understanding of context, and personal touch that a human writer brings to the content. It can be used to generate content quickly and efficiently, but it is usually recommended to have a human editor review and make final adjustments before publishing.
– Chat GPT
Ironically, that exact conclusion sums up how I feel about AI content creation at this juncture. It’s tempting to use AI to create all of the copy for your website, but if you choose to go this route, you must heavily edit it and fully take time to fact check prior to publishing.
What is ChatGPT useful for right now?
ChatGPT can certainly be used in a methodical way to speed up the process of writing for your website. As a bonus, it has applications for social media!
It is great for things like:
- Page Titles
- META descriptions
- factual information (that you can then check using our friend Google)
- coming up with prompts for blogs
- planning out your social media posts
- Rewriting a sentence or two here or there
- Writing captions for Instagram
- Creating scripts for TikTok
What is ChatGPT NOT useful for right now?
I would not recommend using conversational AI to write full web pages or blog entries for you and publishing them “as is.”
The danger of ChatGPT at the moment is that if you ask it a question and then someone else asks it the same question, it spits out the exact same answer. If your goal in writing content for your website is to improve your SEO, this is not a good situation. Google & other search engines expect content to be unique from site to site, and your website can drop in rank if you have copy that someone else also has on their website.
One goal of copywriting for SEO is to portray “EAT”: Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness. Copy that is written by AI is likely to be interpreted as untrustworthy. It’s best to create content that does not have the potential to be interpreted as plagiarized.
Today’s electronic instruments have evolved significantly and are pretty impressive. Even so, trained musicians can i tell the difference between the acoustic instrument and the electronic one. Reading copy that ChatGPT writes is similar. It’s like listening to a MIDI file instead of a live musician. It’s still music, and it isn’t bad, but something sounds a little off: It just doesn’t have soul.
Will AI replace human copywriters in the future?
We don’t really know! In the meantime, my advice is to use ChatGPT and other AI tech sparingly, selectively, and carefully.
“We can only see a short distance ahead, but we can see plenty there that needs to be done.”
Citations & Links:
- A. M. TURING, I.—COMPUTING MACHINERY AND INTELLIGENCE, Mind, Volume LIX, Issue 236, October 1950, Pages 433–460.
- OpenAI’s ChatGPT
- R. Kurzweil – The Age of Spiritual Machines: When Computers Exceed Human Intelligence, January 2000.