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  • Writer's pictureRebecca Grose

Four Questions Professional Writers Are Asking about ChatGPT and AI Writing

Updated: Aug 31, 2023


"A pug with a blanket on it's head looking sad, and the text "when you realize your competitors asked ChatGPT the same questions, posted the same content, and generated the same ideas as you."

Imagine a world where you can effortlessly generate high-quality articles, blog posts, and social media content with just a few clicks. Welcome to the realm of AI writing. Well, sort of.


Since the release of ChatGPT back in November of 2022, there’s been a lot of discussion about the convenience, ethics, and quality of AI-written content. There are plenty of examples of students, professionals, and even crafters using AI to write for them. Some see it as another example of humanity’s laziness, while others argue AI is the ultimate expression of humanity’s ingenuity.


As professional writers, those of us at Scriptorium see ChatGPT and AI tools a little differently. Like spellcheck and calculators, AI is a tool that can be useful, so long as one knows how to use it and which context is appropriate for its use, but we don’t see AI as a magic writing wand. Instead, we ask some important questions.


1. How Accurate is ChatGPT's Content?

AI generators—whether written, visual, or other content—aren’t creating something from nothing. They use an enormous data set to “teach” the AI how to answer questions. This data set is automatically collected by a process known as “web scraping,” where they use an algorithm to download information from websites across the internet. But there are important questions here:


  • Where did this information come from?

  • Who made the original information?

  • Is the content correct?

  • What were their biases, and how did they affect this content?

  • How are original content producers compensated for the use of their work, if they are at all?


AI algorithms are only as unbiased and as accurate as the data sets they are trained on. If the data set is biased or full of false information, so too will be the output of the AI. The more specialized the required content, the less information the AI tool will have, which means it’s more prone to inaccuracies.


Scriptorium’s advice: Like any document, whether written by humans or AI, it’s important to fact-check. Review your document to make sure that any claims you make are correct and reflect the message you intend to deliver.


2. How is My Information Protected?

The data set is forever expanding through continued web scraping and from the people who use the AI. For example, did you know that whatever you input into the prompt box becomes part of the data set?


Perhaps someone needed a confidential meeting to be distilled into a report, and they used AI to generate that report. In this case, if they put the minutes from that confidential meeting into the prompt box, they would be voluntarily giving that information to the AI to use in the future. In many cases, this would be considered a serious breach of confidentiality.


While ChatGPT doesn’t currently sell the data they collect, they save it and use it to “improve responses and accuracy.” This could mean improvements to writing to sound more human, to the correctness of the information it’s providing, or to responses to conform to participants’ preferences.


Scriptorium’s advice: If you choose to use AI to help write professional documents, ensure that you don’t put anything into the prompt boxes that is confidential or that you don’t want to be included in the data set. If the content requires a level of confidentiality, hiring a professional writer who is bound by a contract will keep your information safe.


3. How Do I Get the Best Results with AI?

AI needs specific, clear, and exact instructions to complete its work. A command like “write a blog post” won’t yield adequate results, at least not specific to one’s business. AI can’t make assumptions or ask questions to guide a company through the process of writing copy. It won’t ask questions about audience, purpose, or means. AI can’t ensure that a company’s brand or voice remains consistent. Using AI requires trial and error to get a document that can be usable.


For example, to test out the capabilities of ChatGPT, I imputed the prompt: “Write a short save-the-date email for June 22, 2024.” The result was a stilted invitation to a “joyous occasion” and a request to “keep the excitement brewing.” So, I had to revise my input to include that the event was a wedding, which improved the quality of the output significantly. While it was much better the second time around, it was still quite stiff. In the end, I was able to keep the lines I liked and revise the ones I didn’t to make it sound like something I would write.


AI can use correct sentence structure, but sometimes it falls flat because AI can’t express the inherent subtleties of human communication or adequately mimic our experience and perspectives, especially satire, sarcasm, or humour.


Scriptorium’s advice: If you use AI to write a document, make sure you know exactly what you want and be clear in your instructions. Expect to have to tweak your instructions to get closer to what you want, and understand that the document will still require a human to edit for style. If you have an idea that needs refinement, a professional writer can guide you through the process from idea to final form.


4. What is the Best Way for Writers to Use AI like ChatGPT?

So, if AI isn’t a replacement for professional writers, what can we use it for?


Scriptorium’s Advice: AI is useful if you don’t know how to get started. Like the save the date example, AI can help you create a first draft that you can revise. It can also support you with some of the trickier parts of writing, such as coming up with a title. AI grammar and proofing programs are a great way to save time in the editing proofing process.


AI content generators, such as ChatGPT, are major advances in the way that the world communicates with one another. When used appropriately, they are tools that can enhance your professional life. Like any tool, they have limitations and concerns. Scriptorium recommends you develop best practices for their use, especially if you expect your company to use it in any significant way.


AI-content generators aren’t going away anytime soon, but we aren’t worried. There will always be space for competent writers, and savvy professionals know that while AI-generated content has its uses, it can’t replace the knowledge, experience, critical thinking, and refinement of real writers.

 

Looking for human writing support? Our team is ready to write technical and business content that reflects your expertise, values, and company. Contact us for a consultation.


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