We’re all nervous about AI. We have every right to be. For decades, Hollywood has shown us the enslavement and eventual extinction of humanity at the hands of artificial intelligence. Brilliant people like Stephen Hawking and Elon Musk have outright warned us of the dangers. At the end of the day, you don’t need too much imagination to picture a HAL or Skynet-like cyber-being taking over.
I know, all this sounds alarmist and blown out of proportion. The nuclear apocalypse is no more likely to be caused by AI than it is by our own violent nature. Besides, artificial intelligence still has a long way to go before it can lord over humanity. For now, we’ll have to settle with deepfakes and emulating human language.
What is GPT-3 and why should you care?
GPT-3 stands for Generative Pre-trained Transformer 3. The people at OpenAI describe it as an “autoregressive language model with 175 billion parameters”.
Now that we’ve gotten the nerdspeak out of the way, what the hell is GPT-3, really? Simply put, GPT-3 is an AI that can generate human-like text. In fact, texts generated by this marvel of modern coding are so indistinguishable from human texts, evaluators are having trouble telling the difference.
Here are some areas where GPT-3 can (probably) kick your ass:
- Writing poetry;
- Writing music;
- Writing code;
- Unscrambling words;
- Writing news articles;
- Writing web copy;
- And just for fun – arithmetic.
This is not even mentioning images. GPT-3 is impressive and truly doesn’t get the credit it deserves. Yet.
Remember that scene in “I, Robot” where Will Smith’s character Del Spooner asks Sonny if a robot can write a symphony or paint a beautiful picture? GPT-3 can flex harder than Sonny.
Now, don’t get me wrong – I’m by no means a “robot-hater” like Detective Spooner in the movie. My goal with this article is to merely point out where we are and where we’re (probably) going. A lot of my readers either work in marketing or own a business. Both groups would benefit from a reality check.
Here’s an AI that can learn how to code in a matter of minutes. It can learn the various intricacies and complexities of human language by the time you read this sentence. It can generate thousands of articles by the time I can write one. So is this the end of copywriters?
Is GPT-3 going to replace you?
Since you’re reading my blog, probably not. My readers are smart enough to know when to generalize and when to specialize. They know OK is not good enough. They know how to take a punch and keep moving forward. So you’re safe (probably).
While GPT-3 is impressive, the technology is nowhere near perfect. From advising a simulated patient to commit suicide to modelling human speech patterns without understanding them, GPT-3 has failed on more than one occasion. Some of its biases (it has learned from the Internet, after all) have taken lots of flak, and rightfully so. We’re still years, maybe decades away from the singularity.
Here’s the bad news – in case your job can be easily automated, you’re down for the count. If your paycheck depends on churning out quantity and not quality, you’re easily replaceable by an AI. After all, what you can do, AI can do faster, better, and cheaper. And since it’s usually the lowest bidders that win in these scenarios, you’re out. The moment potential employers find out they can “solve their content needs for a few bucks a month”, no one will bother with you.
If you work for an agency that dishes out low-quality content, your boss will probably replace you and pocket the difference. Either way, this is the end of the line for you.
But it’s not just low-level content writers that should be worried. The same goes for low-level coders, low-level accountants, low-level anything. You were getting by for years because of outsourcing and offering your services at a low price but you cannot possibly hope to outcompete AI on that front.
I know what you’re thinking, “Atanas – it will be years before this happens. My job is safe.” Thanks for the setup, imaginary rhetorical person. But you’re wrong. And not “kind of wrong”, you’re dead wrong. This is already happening. AI-written content is circulating the web as we speak.
Real storytellers with real stories to tell shouldn’t worry. But low-quality writers should tremble. Sure, people who use AI say it can’t hold a candle to a competent writer. Then again, most so-called “content writers” can’t hold a candle to a competent writer, either.
GPT-3 will raise the bar and all those who can’t swim with the flooding tide will drown. This is the reality of the situation. It’s a matter of time. If your only competitive advantage is offering cheap labor, you’ve already lost it. You just don’t know it. Yet.
What does it mean for your business?
Of course, you’re not reading my blog because you’re interested in AI. You’re reading because you’re interested in stories about business and marketing. So what does this whole thing mean about your business?
Some of you are already thinking, “Awesome, now I won’t have to hire writers anymore.” And if you’re hiring cheap writers for the sake of quantity over quality, you’re probably right. GPT-3 will deliver the same “quality” writing at a fraction of the price.
Of course, you’re still stuck with the same problem you have now – your competitors will have access to the same tools and resources you do.
There are two ways to solve this. One is to work with someone better. A dedicated writer who’s interested in helping you grow your business and not simply getting paid.
The other is to have a solid brand strategy that differentiates your business (and therefore content) from your competitors. In fact, as tactics become easier and easier, the importance of strategy will only grow in the foreseeable future. In order to utilize GPT-3 effectively, you need to be strategic.
Anyway – shameless self-plugs aside, this is the truth. You can’t outcompete your rivals by using the same tools they are. At first glance, it seems like GPT-3 will give you an edge, but really – it will give everyone the same edge. Which means no one gets an edge.
But, hey – it’s not like most people today are focusing on quality, anyway. In fact, I still think the overall level of content on the web will increase, which is a good thing.
Aside from replacing low-quality writers and other professionals, I think GPT-3 will provide a utility for people who know how to use it. It will become another tool in the toolbox of content creation, and a sharp one at that. So digital marketing agencies will immensely benefit from it. Businesses who don’t know what they need – not so much.
Finally, there’s probably going to be a fraction of businesses who decide to shun this new technology and keep doing things “the old way”. And by “the old way”, I mean hiring cheap labor and hoping for the best. These businesses will no longer be able to compete with anyone and will go extinct.
Like it or not, the technological train is currently at the station and leaving soon. It will keep going forward, riding on the tracks of progress and if you’re not on it, you’ll be left behind. Forever.
If you’re a low-quality professional, I’d start upgrading your skills. Now. And if you’re a businessperson thinking AI will solve all your problems, think again. Sure, it will make things easier, but it will also raise the bar. Which means your business will have to rise with it.
AI is here and only getting better. The only way we can avoid getting axed is by becoming the kind of professional who can’t easily be replaced by a few lines of code. What a time to be alive…
Till next time.