In the past decade, the development of AI technology has brought about significant changes in our daily lives, even helping to write the intro to this very article. ChatGPT is one of the more recent AI success stories, causing marketers and content creators sit up and take note.
Looking back at history, there are several points at which new inventions fundamentally transformed the way we live. We could go as far back as the discovery and harnessing of electricity, or innovations like the steam engine, the telegraph and telephone, the first computer and computer science – to name just a few. Each technology was disruptive at the time, paving the way for further advances and reshaping life as we know it. Just look at your smartphone and consider that journey!
Fast forward to the 20th century, which brought us the Internet, and more recently: Artificial Intelligence. The launch of ChatGPT in late November 2022 catapulted AI into our daily lives and by the end of January 2023 it had around 13 million users a day. But ChatGPT is only the tip of the iceberg and like previous inventions, it stands on the shoulders of AI giants.
Tech leaders such as Google, Facebook and Microsoft have been cautiously working on the technological building blocks that ultimately enabled ChatGPT. In July 2022 Google reportedly sacked Blake Lemoine, an engineer working on its AI system who claimed it became sentient, and in August 2022, Facebook launched Blenderbot, a heavily censored and redacted AI chatbot that presumably failed due to being overcautious. Considering the 2016 PR-disaster of Microsoft’s AI bot Tay, it is unsurprising that caution and prudence kept a lid on AI. But ChatGPT seems to successfully navigate the tension of AI risks versus an apparent market-fit, and arguably heralds AI’s inflection point in our history.
The AI arms race is certainly on. Google’s CEO, Sundar Pichai, referred to AI as “the most profound technology” they’re working on, and after earlier issuing a ‘code red’ over ChatGPT, Google is now (early February) rolling out its response: Bard the chatbot, currently being tested by a closed user group, before releasing to the public in the coming weeks. The search giant also intends to integrate AI into its search tools, with an emphasis on quality and safety, which are areas of concern raised about ChatGPT.
In January 2023 and off the back of ChatGPT’s whirlwind success, Microsoft confirmed its multibillion-dollar investment in the platform and plans to integrate it with its suite of office products. The immediate focus is on helping organisations increase productivity with less investment, meaning enabling AI to take over necessary administrative tasks currently carried out by humans.
Teams, Microsoft’s internal comms platform, will offer a premium feature called ‘intelligent recap’, to automatically generate written meeting notes, tasks and a summary of the high priority points raised in the meeting. Missing attendees will be able to view automatically generated transcripts, divided into respective video chapters. And overseas colleagues could focus on their content and delivery, enjoying the ‘live translations’ feature.
Other AI race contenders include: WriteSonic – a ChatGPT alternative, built with superpowers, Jasper – an AI bot that will write your blogs and letters, or Replika – the AI companion who cares. Or you could simply browse the There’s an AI For That directory to find the right AI tool for the job.
AI is going to disrupt every aspect of our lives. Consider ChatGPT’s current capabilities, which include debugging computer code, passing an MBA exam, and scraping through medicine exams, and project those 12-18 months forward.
One area that is already changing is search and content marketing. In early February, Microsoft launched the AI-powered Bing search engine and Edge browser. In response, Google released a video demo of its own chatbot, Bard, being used in search – only to have its stock tumble when it became apparent that Bard was referencing inaccurate information. Although spreading misinformation is not a problem exclusive to Bard, but a concern with all AI bots since they can only generate responses based on the information that was fed into them. In other words – they don’t know how to fact check and are predisposed with biases from their training material.
With tools to detect AI-generated content already available, does this mean Google will start penalising or excluding this content from search results? Most definitely not, according to the company’s official stance on it, stated in its blog: “AI has the ability to power new levels of expression and creativity, and to serve as a critical tool to help people create great content for the web.”
But what it does mean is that now more than ever, creating quality, accurate, people-first content matters most. As the AI-powered search race heats up, the standards by which content-quality is measured will only tighten as both Google and Microsoft will want to safeguard the integrity of AI outputs their respective search engines produce. To win the AI-powered search race means using only reliable content.
So how will the lives of content creators, brand marketers and search professionals be impacted by this? It’s hard to imagine how different things will be in a year’s time; it’s very early days and things are developing at an incredible pace. Ironically however, in a sense – nothing is changing. Google’s official stance on AI-generated content is to not exclude or automatically downgrade it, and what matters most remains the quality of the content – not how it was generated.
Brand marketers currently have a clear advantage over AI: creativity. AI isn’t capable of understanding sarcasm, irony, humour… It may be capable of producing visuals, but that’s different from being creative. Generative AI is only as good or relevant as the input you feed it.
This will inevitably lead brand marketers to dig deeper into the analytics and their audience profiling to preserve the quality of their outputs and genuinely resonate with their audience – irrespective of how those are produced.
In the short term, as we embrace AI in our daily lives and train it to become more accurate, it may well prove itself to be the most efficient tool we never knew we needed.
This article was originally published in the March/April 2023 issue of NZ Marketing. Click here to subscribe.