I used to write chapters for Tolleys and other “bibles” for people who line their offices with books in the hope of being “erudite” (or want to be seen to be).
I doubt much I wrote was read and if it was, I doubt it improved things. Most of what I wrote was recycled from Government publications. Latterly it was cut and paste , formerly, manual keying, but essentially, there was nothing in this dissemination of information that required any creativity from the writer or any imagination from the reader.
Yesterday, Chegg – an American publisher of text-books, admitted that it could not compete for eyeballs with Chat-GPT and it’s shares fell 50%. It launched its own AI search engine to produce bespoke answers to student’s questions. Pearson fell 15% and other online and book publishers will find it increasingly hard to justify the value of their business, so long as their customers are smarter than they are.
Kodak ignored the digital camera and went bust. We don’t have sacred texts any more.
So am I scared?
You can create a blog in the style of Henry Tapper on Chat GPT, I’ve tried and it’s much better written than the real thing – and much less interesting.
I’m not saying you read me because of my bad writing , but I do think you read me because what you get is me – and that’s interesting because I represent a distinct and different viewpoint which makes you read me once and come back for more. This blog has been read more than 2 million times (not by 2 million people).
And while the production of information is being commoditized, the production of blogs is limited and my stats this year are up on previous years. That may be in part because I am getting better with my publicity, or – after 15 years of trying, I’m getting better at writing. But I think it’s mostly because there is still “imagination” out there – coming from you!
And because news travels fast, you have to be ahead of the herd. Pension Expert closed in April (nobody cried), Professional Pensions, Pension Age and derivatives survive, subsidized by conferences , advertorial and decreasing advertising revenues. Genuine newshounds are few and far between, the majority of “news” items are created from press releases.
Quietroom and others talk up the value of “stories” but there are very few “stories” that people will pay money for. “Stories” are now interchangeable with “narratives” and they are only unique once. Once your story is committed to the interweb , it becomes the property of AI. The bible is a book of stories that are the property of AI. There is no sacred text.
So, in the process of pressing “publish”, I kill the stories in my head – I hand them over to Chat GPT. They only remain live if they aren’t digitalized. Jo Craig’s told a story last week at Redington’s “reinventing pensions” – I won’t kill it – I won’t tell the story on here.
Maybe Homer felt the same when he sang the Iliad and Odyssey. Did he want his words written down- to become sacred texts? Or did he want them part of a live tradition passed down by word of mouth?
If I dreamed up songs, would I want my lyrics published?
If you look down the side of the page you are reading you may see the archive of 6,500 blogs I have written. I have to use the search button to find out what I used to say. The blogs are dead when they sit behind those monthly links and become live again, only when you open them. I kill my babies – my blogs that is, I never reminisce, it is like visiting a graveyard.
AI will kill sacred texts, it will mean there are no more bibles. There will be rulebooks – documents produced by Governmental departments and their regulators but their publication will simply serve the bots that recreate the information you need in a way that makes it accessible to you and your clients. You don’t need an intermediary in the form of a journalist unless that intermediary is newsworthy, for the good journalist, AI is the means to a 3-day working week.
Pension journalists, raise your game or work in financial PR, only the creative will survive the firestorm of AI.
It’s quite disturbing that those who can foresee the impact of AI on society are mostly ignored or dismissed. The capitalists who see the opportunities for profit shout “don’t regulate to restrict the free market”. Humans are a problem that can be removed from the supply chain.
Just like you, I have contemplated whether AI with access to the immense library of global information could have done my job as a steelwork’s project engineer. Much of it, yes. So in reality, it would mean far fewer professional design engineers would be needed to take decisions. Thinking more broadly, I see a real risk of a future dystopia world in which the superior “intellect” of the AI cannot be challenged; the computer seen as an impartial arbiter with access to a wealth of knowledge and experience not possible to a single or small group of humans. Why do we need judges who may have the human frailties of bias or professionals who could make mistakes leading to malpractice claims?
The problem from the user point of view is asking the right question and providing all the information about your circumstances that is required to get the information you really need. People don’t know what they don’t know. Full automation requires a perfectly updated reference base and a way of extracting from the user all the information that might be required from them. There are obvious challenges with the reference base and the checking for relevant extra information from the user could be extremely tedious and time-consuming for them, not to mention error-prone.
“ I doubt much I wrote was read and if it was, I doubt it improved things.”
Has anything changed? If not then what is the purpose?
Synthetic media will explode due to AI already truth has been manipulated with
devastating effect e.g. Brexit