The Upside—and Downside—of Arguing with ChatGPT

The Upside—and Downside—of Arguing with ChatGPT

At this point, ChatGPT is old news. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’re probably familiar with the buzz surrounding the AI chatbot system that has a lot of folks wondering if humans are finally being replaced by robots. 

Writers in particular have been wondering if the day they’ve long feared has finally arrived—the one where intelligent human beings with expensive liberal arts degrees are squeezed out of the writing process altogether. 

By and large, though, I think that belief is unfounded at best, and focused entirely on the wrong thing at worst. What I mean is that ChatGPT is fundamentally much more powerful and useful, and to view it entirely as a technology that has the ability to replace writers is, essentially, the lowest order of magnitude this potentially game-changing technology represents. 

Generative A.I. is one of the most interesting and exciting innovations to emerge in the last decade, and perhaps it’s the launch of Microsoft’s Copilot that showcases the power of this tech in the most succinct and powerful way. Imagine if everything you’ve ever created for your business, every slide deck, every contract, every document, every safety- or personnel-training program, every Slack message, every image, every email, even every piece of code was analyzed, synthesized, and stored. And then imagine if all that data was used to create new material automatically, in seconds, with a single voice prompt. And what if you could then use what it creates as a starting point to shape the new thing you’re creating? The new slide deck or the new training program or the new marketing strategy? That’s Copilot in a nutshell. That’s the enormous, monumental opportunity that exists with these sorts of GPT-3 and GPT-4 technologies.

Supplement, not substitute

However, I digress. So back to the ChatGPT/writer conundrum. 

ChatGPT can certainly do a lot, and maybe even replace some writers and some writing assignments, but I’m nowhere near convinced it’s going to push humans out of the writing process. On the contrary, it’s an opportunity, a powerful and useful technology we can harness, and even weaponize, as a force for good in our businesses. It’s a tool that can allow us to spend more of our time on more of the things that matter, things like codifying our thoughts by revising our writing, which is the part of the writing process where all the magic happens anyway. We call it revision because it allows you to “re-vision,” to reimagine what you wrote so you can get closer and closer to what it is you’re really trying to say. (Case in point: this is the fourth version of this essay.)

Sure, ChatGPT can write 800 words on the ten most common reasons why you might want to transform your brand, but it can’t get to the heart of why those words matter—and why they should matter to you. It can’t replicate your point of view, or your experience, or your insight. It can’t make those words uniquely meaningful. 

What it can do, though, is give you something to react to.  

A useful starting point

With the help of advanced deep-learning techniques, ChatGPT is capable of understanding the context of a conversation and generating relevant and coherent responses. It’s also “self-learning,” which means it gets smarter and more precise the more information you give it to train with. If you can suspend your disbelief for long enough, and forget about the fact that you’re talking to a computer, ChatGPT can be both a sounding board and a muse. 

When I asked ChatGPT how brand strategy relates to brand positioning, two things we spend an enormous amount of time thinking about here at Thrive, these are the first few sentences it generated.  

Brand strategy and brand positioning are closely related, as the former sets the direction for the latter.

Brand positioning refers to the perceived value of a brand in the minds of its target audience. It’s how a brand differentiates itself from competitors and creates a unique and compelling image in the minds of consumers.

While you may not see the problem right away, I certainly do. And the problem is that I disagree completely with Chat GPT’s position. I would argue that your brand strategy arises from your brand’s positioning, and not the other way around. (I’ve written about the power of positioning here.) I also don’t believe that positioning is the perceived value of a brand. Proper positioning is what gives a brand its value, because positioning leads to specialization, and specialization is what sets you apart and allows you to compete in a much smaller—yet infinitely more valuable—arena. 

So, while ChatGPT gave me an answer that I ultimately don’t agree with, it was still useful because it allowed me to really think, and re-vision, and wrestle with the concepts it was spitting out—concepts that are meaningful to me as an agency principal and as someone who’s constantly learning and growing. 

Embrace, and then leverage

The point that I’m ultimately illustrating here is that embracing new technologies and finding ways to leverage them to serve your needs is a much better approach than fearing technologies that not only aren’t going away any time soon, but will continue to appear at an increasingly faster rate. Generative A.I. may seem novel and scary right now, but it wasn’t all that long ago that telematics, wearable technologies like exoskeletons and VR headsets, and boom cameras were novel and scary too. And yet—we now embrace them for the benefits and advantages they provide.  

It’s not always easy to keep up with the pace of technological innovation, and it becomes even harder when the innovation itself is substantial. But if we can get past the fear and embrace the opportunities that arise, we may find that the technology we’ve been avoiding is the one with the greatest potential to catalyze our growth. 

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