ChatGPT/Bard…a writer’s perspective

As this blogger has been recuperating from rotator cuff surgery since the middle of March, the discussion on the viability of ChatGPT, and now Google’s effort in Bard, has only increased in a very short amount of time. 

ChatGPT, or Chat “generative pre-trained transformer” is an artificial intelligence chatbot. A chatbot has been used for a while, especially in customer service applications, in which a “bot” taking the form of a person, comes onto your website to ask if you have any questions. The answers given back from the questions posed are based on what is in the database of information (like the department you want to get a hold of) combined with “learning”, all done in natural language. 

Artificial Intelligence has been in development for a long time, now the combination of the physical attribute (robot) and the verbal element (using ChatGPT/Bard to present an idea) is coming closer together.
PC: “Artificial Intelligence” by theglobalpanorama is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

Another version of this is the popular application “Grammarly.” Many writers now use Grammarly to tighten up and clean up grammar and use of words for their written works. With each application though, the human interaction with it (choosing the suggested change in Grammarly, or determining if the option given in a bot is the answer to the question) becomes more tailored. 

Now the chatbot has gone beyond limited applications and has become a source where a question on anything gets an answer that is written in a human voice, in paragraphs, and is done instantly. This blogger got a sample of that power when, at the JCI year-end convention in Nashville, Tennessee in March, the Executive Director used ChatGPT to come up with wording for a post on social media that talked about the upcoming national convention later this year. 

The style that came through, based on typing in a few words of description, was written in a way that you could easily just copy and paste, then press send and your message is out there. There was no need to modify what was presented. 

That “good to go” nature of ChatGPT made the audience watching this, elicit several oohs and aahs. To me, sitting in that audience, it was eerily spooky how on the nose the information presented was, and how fast it came out. 

After that, in coming home and starting to work with Google’s Bard, which is still in development but does allow for people to start using it (by invitation which you request), the idea that a writer could get so lazy as to have their work done by an AI bot on subjects seems terrifying to this writer. 

But then, in working with Google’s Bard, this writer noticed something that always seems to be missing from AI-based applications. That is the essence of the human voice in the presentation. In the limited amount of interface that has been done on this level, one thing that was noted was that the words coming back seemed to be devoid of what could be said is the “human element”. Every answer given back from questions seemed to have the same rigamarole, the same tone of voice, and the same general structure. 

Of course, there is work being done to improve the tone of the answers coming back. So stay tuned. 

Will the art of writing be relegated to the dustbin now that AI applications like ChatGPT and Bard could take all the work out of researching and writing, presenting ideas at a snap of a finger? This writer thinks not.
PC: “Writer’s Digest Book Shipment” by is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

As for the practice of writing and defaulting to ChatGPT or Bard to do the heavy lifting, this writer will note that a writer’s style – the way they put words together, the imperfections in the application of the grammar, or even the type of words itself – may now become even more than just a personal presentation in words. It could become a way for someone to determine the genuineness of what is written. Like a fingerprint, no two writers write the same, which could lead to people looking as much at style as they do at content. 

Another factor that ChatGPT/Bard could play for the writer, as this one sees it, is not so much a convenient substitute to writing, but to present ideas in a way that the layperson can understand an issue in a convenient, bite-sized way. For instance, this writer posed a question about the issues surrounding “Critical Race Theory” and Bard came back with a couple of paragraph presentation that can give folks with cursory knowledge enough information to at least be part of a conversation (Twitter, Facebook, etc) in a more intellectual way than saying “uh, I dunno”. 

As ChatGPT/Bard and other GPT interfaces emerge, one thing is for sure, the ability to inquire, get and distribute information will become even faster as time goes on.