ChatGPT and The Future of Work: How Technology is Changing the Workplace

ChatGPT and the future of work: How technology is changing the workplace

If technology reaches a level where it can perform your job as well or better than you can, what are you going to do for a living?

Brian Frederick

A couple of months ago, a friend of mine told me about ChatGPT, an AI chatbot that responds to prompts in natural ways. I said that I would try it, but I didn’t pay much attention to it. A few weeks later, I saw a video on The Break about ChatGPT, and I remembered that my friend had told me about it. I started watching the video, in which Patricia Bright explained that she would have spent £‎2,000 on a newsletter and a blog post for her business, but she got it for free with ChatGPT.

My eyes widened. ChatGPT can write actual blog posts? Like, what I do on this blog? I paused the video and googled ChatGPT. I wasn’t sure where to start from, so I asked, “What can you do?” It responded:

As an AI language model, I can do many things such as:

  1. Answering questions: I can provide information on a wide range of topics and answer questions to the best of my knowledge.
  2. Language translation: I can translate text from one language to another.
  3. Text completion: I can help you finish sentences or paragraphs based on the context provided.
  4. Writing assistance: I can suggest ways to improve your writing, check grammar, and spelling.
  5. Conversation: I can engage in casual conversation, tell jokes, or even chat with you.
  6. Math and science problems: I can help you with math problems, physics, or chemistry questions.
  7. General knowledge: I have knowledge about various subjects such as history, geography, sports, and entertainment.

Please feel free to ask me any questions or for help with any of the above tasks.

My first prompt was “write a newsletter”. The chatbot started writing. I was shocked, but not too shocked. The newsletter was quite generic, so I wasn’t too impressed. Next, I typed “complete a paragraph”, and I inserted a couple of sentences from a text I had written. ChatGPT started generating a response, and I was blown away. Now that I had provided a bit of context, the response was actually quite good.

As a writer, my first instinct was to feel threatened. This was an AI chatbot generating a paragraph in a matter of seconds – something that would have taken me much longer to write, edit, and revise. My heart started beating fast. My writing skills have basically lost relevance. Apparently, I’m not the only one who shares this sentiment.

I wasn’t ready to see what else ChatGPT could do, so I went back to watching Patricia Bright’s video. She talked about how ChatGPT could be useful to business owners: The chatbot could help them analyse market trends, create content, and generate ideas. She presented it in a very positive light, and I think that made me more receptive to it. I finished watching the video, and I was finally ready to see more.

I typed into the text field, “Write a blog post”, and I provided a topic (one that had been sitting in my drafts for about two weeks). ChatGPT responded, and I guess I wasn’t too shocked this time, because I already knew what the chatbot was capable of. It didn’t approach the blog post from the angle I would have taken, but it was an okay-ish post in terms of both structure and content.

So, here’s the million dollar question: Will AI result in writers losing their jobs? Here’s a response from ChatGPT itself:

While AI and other forms of automation are capable of producing writing to a certain extent, there is currently no evidence to suggest that AI will lead to writers losing their jobs completely. AI-generated writing has its limitations, and human writers are still essential for many types of writing, such as creative writing, critical analysis, and opinion pieces.

In fact, AI can actually complement and enhance the work of writers by automating certain tasks, such as fact-checking, research, and data analysis, which can free up more time for writers to focus on the creative aspects of their work.

Furthermore, many companies and organizations still value the skills and expertise of human writers, and continue to seek out their services. So while AI may impact the writing industry in certain ways, it is unlikely to completely replace human writers anytime soon.

Way to redeem yourself, ChatGPT! Personally, I would feel like a phoney copying and pasting a blog post – or, indeed, any piece of writing – from ChatGPT and presenting it as my writing (and I think it is unethical to do this anyway). But I can understand it from a business perspective, if you need to create generic content.

In any case, if you want a piece of writing with a personal touch, you cannot get it from ChatGPT (well, for now at least). As Bhaimiya notes, ChatGPT will change the way we work, but it won’t displace us, since humans are needed to do higher value work and not just mundane repetitive tasks that can be automated. While I don’t doubt that the quality of writing from ChatGPT (or any future AI chatbot) will improve and become more human-like over time, I cannot foresee a future where human writers will no longer be needed.

I also wonder if there will be plagiarism issues from using content created by ChatGPT. Although some say that when you run content from ChatGPT through a plagiarism checker, it is 100% unique, I wonder how much longer that would last. Already, I can identify repetitions (albeit paraphrased) from ChatGPT when I copy and paste the same prompts other people have used. I haven’t found a direct answer to the plagiarism issue, but I suppose that’s a discussion for another day.

Anyway, back to my first experience with ChatGPT. I started to think of how I could use the chatbot to my advantage (because, let’s face it, it’s not going anywhere). So, I typed “blog post ideas” into the text field, and alas “The Future of Work: How Technology is Changing the Workplace” was number 4 on the list. (To be sure, ChatGPT was only useful when it came to the topic for this blog post. When I was done writing, I asked ChatGPT to write a blog post on the same topic so I could compare it with what I had written and see if I could get some inspiration, but nothing was useful to me because the content was very generic.)

So, I guess ChatGPT is not all that bad. Once I was able to get over my insecurities about a chatbot making my writing skills seem redundant, I realised that ChatGPT can actually be quite useful not only for writers but also for other people: editors, researchers, computer programmers, journalists, paralegals, market research analysts, teachers, financial analysts, etc. Here are some of my favourite prompts: “Highlight the grammatical errors in this text”, “Suggest five topic ideas on [XYZ]”, “Revise this sentence for concision”, and simply “Criticise this text”.

Once I was able to get over my insecurities about a chatbot making my writing skills seem redundant, I realised that ChatGPT can actually be quite useful not only for writers but also for other people.

I will say, though, that you should take content generated by ChatGPT with a pinch of salt, as it is not always accurate, especially when it comes to conducting research (sometimes, it will literally cite made-up sources). It takes a bit of practice and experimentation to figure out what the chatbot is capable of and how to use it to your advantage. All in all, the future of work certainly looks very interesting with ChatGPT and AI in general. I look forward to discovering more features of the chatbot and integrating them into my work to make it easier!

If you haven’t heard about ChatGPT and want to try it, click here. It is completely free – for now!

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