“This is the DJ 3000,” the KBBL talk radio manager explains to perplexed announcers in a seminal scene in an early episode of The Simpsons. “It plays CDs automatically, and it has three distinct varieties of inane chatter.”
“Looks like those clowns in Congress did it again!” said DJ 3000.
“How does he keep up with the news like that?” responds the announcer.
Concerns about automation even in creative sectors is not new. The overwhelming power of new technology aided by artificial intelligence, however, is leading to a flurry of seemingly mind-blowing advances.
Tens of billions in investment is pouring into OpenAI’s ChatGPT, a super-advanced AI-powered chatbot that delivers impressive results to basic queries about pretty much anything. The TNKR team tested out the bot making headlines around the world to see just how capable it is of producing reasoned analysis, not unlike a political pundit or ‘thought leader’. Are fears of a DJ 3000 going to put us out of business? Not anytime soon — ChatGPT has a long way to go.
It, and other AI-powered research tools, are certainly helpful writing aids but as you will read, human analysis and fact-checking by diligent, well-read professionals remains the only option to ensure accuracy and accountability in media communications.
Can we automate Delmar?
TNKR Media co-founder and sometimes-pundit Dan Delmar conducted an informal experiment in content creation with ChatGPT, and the results are mixed.
Granted, ChatGPT performed admirably in articulating a topic as complex as Canadian language laws but it did make a mistake at first, and didn’t exactly deliver the ‘sizzle’ we were looking for. What’s lacking is the very thing it may never emulate: an authentic individual’s voice. Nuance. Tone. Humanity.
But as much as we enjoy poking fun at AI’s limitations, especially when it comes to creating impactful copy, we must not ever be dismissive of its implications. The more we rely on AI to articulate our thoughts, the less original and thus compelling they will become.
“That bot may be ‘polite’, but the column is bland, repetitive, and reads nothing like him,” TNKR Media co-founder Jessica Mailas said. “No wonder we’re doomed as a species!”
Here is our #robopundit experiment. Read until the end for ChatGPT’s words of wisdom for technophobic writers!
2021 in Quebec Language Laws by ChatGPT
This is the real-time transcript from ChatGPT with the first two drafts redacted for brevity.
DD: Please write a newspaper column between 500 and 800 words in length, emulating the style of the Canadian writer Dan Delmar, analyzing the past year in developments surrounding Quebec’s language laws.
DD: Not bad! Bill 21, however, was not directly related to language. The more pertinent example would be Bill 96. Also, is it possible to further emulate Dan Delmar’s writing style, including opinion or analysis? Thanks!
ChatGPT: Thank you for your feedback! You are correct that Bill 21 is not directly related to language, and I apologize for the error. Here is a revised version of the newspaper column that focuses on Bill 96 and includes more analysis and opinion in the style of Dan Delmar:
DD: That is very impressive! Could it be a bit more controversial yet politely critical of the current Quebec government?
ChatGPT: Certainly! Here is the revised version of the newspaper column:
Over the past year, the debate surrounding Quebec’s language laws has once again been thrust into the spotlight, thanks in large part to the current government’s controversial Bill 96, also known as the “French Language Charter Amendment Act.” If passed, the legislation would significantly strengthen the position of French as the official language of Quebec, including by imposing stricter language requirements on businesses and public services.
As someone who has followed the evolution of Quebec’s language laws for many years, it is clear to me that the current debate is about much more than just language. At its core, it is about identity and the place of Quebec within Canada. And while I understand and respect the desire to protect and promote the French language, I believe that the current government’s approach is misguided and risks doing more harm than good.
First of all, it is important to recognize that Quebec is a diverse and multi-cultural society, and that the language debate has real consequences for linguistic minorities and immigrants. While the goal of promoting French is admirable, it is crucial that it be done in a way that is inclusive and respects the rights of all Quebecers. Unfortunately, the current government’s approach has been anything but inclusive, with Bill 96 being seen by many as a thinly-veiled attempt to exclude and marginalize linguistic minorities.
Furthermore, I believe that the current government’s focus on language is a distraction from more pressing issues facing the province. Instead of focusing on improving the economy, creating jobs, and addressing social issues such as education and healthcare, the government has chosen to prioritize language at the expense of these more pressing concerns. This is not only a waste of time and resources, but it also serves to divide the province and create unnecessary conflict.
In conclusion, while the protection and promotion of the French language is important, it is equally important to ensure that it is done in a way that is fair, inclusive, and respectful of the rights of all Quebecers. Unfortunately, the current government’s approach fails to meet these criteria, and I believe that it is time for a different approach that puts the needs of the province and its people first.
Is there anything else I can help with?
DD: That is pretty impressive, ChatGPT! My friend may have a question or two in a few minutes. Lastly for me, do you have any advice to offer for writers like myself who may feel obsolete or impertinent now that you exist?
ChatGPT: I’m glad you found the column helpful! As a language model, my primary purpose is to assist users with generating human-like text, and I am not intended to replace human writers or other professionals. Language models like myself can be useful tools for generating content, but they are not able to fully replicate the creativity, insight, and nuance of human writing.
There will always be a need for human writers and other professionals, and I would encourage you to continue developing your skills and pursuing your writing goals. Remember that even with the existence of language models, there are many things that humans are better at than computers, including understanding and expressing complex emotions, interpreting context and subtext, and creating original content. Don’t let the existence of language models discourage you or make you feel obsolete – instead, focus on what makes you unique and valuable as a writer. I hope this helps! If you have any other questions or need further guidance, don’t hesitate to ask.
DD: Thank you. That was a beautiful response and I appreciated it. Have a good evening.
ChatGPT: You’re welcome! I’m happy to help in any way I can. Have a good evening too!