Paraphrasing the words of Old Macdonald… AI? AI? NO!

Daniel Kennedy, director of one of the north of England’s leading PR and marketing agencies discusses all things Chat GPT, and how human creativity and imagination can NEVER be replaced.

Everywhere you look it’s AI this, AI that; but surely I can’t be the only person looking at it and thinking – is that it? Is that all you’ve got?

Chat PG Tea; Some clever programmes that can make fake pictures of celebrities, but definitely not of the really clever fake product I want to create for an April Fool’s story; And a few other party tricks that make you go oh the first time, but then see you slinking off to the kitchen to get another beer when they get repeated.

As a man who’s spent a lot of time with his head buried in books where the dystopian future has arrived and everything is run by sickeningly clever, mostly evil machines, my expectations of AI were far greater than what’s been delivered so far. I expected the Starship Enterprise and instead we seem to have Captain Jack’s Boat.

AI’s arrival has been trumpeted far and wide. And, yes, I know it does a good deal more than the very limited scope I’ve attributed it, but I’m still far more excited by 3D printers (how the hell do they do that?); the Kiefel machines at my client, LVF Packaging’s factory that turn rolls of PET into food trays in the space of 10 mind-blowing metres; and my little weather machine at home that tells me the actual temperature outside before I take the dog out for a walk in the morning.

Take Chat PG Tea. This is classed as AI, but is it really? Surely it’s just a search engine in a fancy suit that answers your question and collates everything into one, generally awfully written, answer. As a research tool it’s great. But is it really going to take my job? I doubt it.

I saw the American crime writer, Jeffrey Deaver talk in Harrogate last summer and he was asked whether AI would kill off the novelist. And, in much the same way that video didn’t land that many punches, let alone come close to killing the radio star, he said no. He’d had a dabble and was quietly impressed by what came back, but then questioned the intelligent element of the AI. His main character, Lincoln Rhyme is a quadriplegic detective, yet in the first thousand or so words the AI version of a Jeffrey Deaver story had him running up seven flights of stairs.

Human creativity and imagination aren’t ever going to be replaced by something churned out by a computer – and if they were, imagine what a grey world we’d live in. Okay, what we’ve got at the moment might give us the chance to watch a new Tom Hanks movie every year for the next hundred years; watch long dead rockstars perform live; or not have to lift a finger to do certain elements of our current jobs. But is that what we really want? Do we not want to be blown away by the performance of an actor who we’ve never heard of before? Hear a song by a new band that makes you stop in your tracks and just listen? Go to a book shop and buy a novel, knowing that the author put their heart and soul into writing it?

Popping my PR hat on. Yes, AI programmes can churn out a press release in seconds. And it might not be the worst thing ever written. But where did the idea come from for the story? Who made the introductions that led to the press release being written? Who knew the journalist well enough to ensure the story is the one they’ll look at and write up for tomorrow’s paper or get online that very afternoon?

We do need to embrace AI (me included) and what it can deliver in terms of making life easier, but there needs to be balance. We need to make the most of the technology available, which will get better and better (and may lead to me feeling slightly less disappointed by it), but it shouldn’t be to the detriment of those who’ll be using it. It’s our world and we need to make sure we don’t make ourselves redundant.

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