Artificial Intelligence (AI) writing tools have advanced greatly, especially with GPT-3. But what are the effects on travel blog writing or online content generally?
AI and ChatGPT-3 Takes Internet By Storm
Among other prevailing news stories this week was the announcement of a new version of GPT-3, an artificial intelligence writing model. It was heralded as impressive by many reviewers from a variety of mainstream media sources. Others were quick to point out that language models still have a long way to go to sound natural and the output can be problematic. As training data, developers from the AI company who created the bot cited safeguards to avoid hurtful, dangerous, and false information but many reviewers quickly found exceptions.
How Good or Bad Is It?
One clever tweeter (@AirlineFlyer) gave the bot an excellent prompt that produced a scary accurate result:
“Write a flight review from on board an SAS A330-300 in SAS Plus from Stockholm to Newark, but toss in a bunch of unnecessary and unrelated pitches for the Chase Sapphire Reserve credit card.”
The entire points & miles gang is officially on notice
I’m dying reading this perfect output. pic.twitter.com/Dy6WZNUpxZ
— Jason Rabinowitz (@AirlineFlyer) December 9, 2022
I feel like I’ve read that post, and while we don’t really promote credit cards on the blog (maybe a dozen posts in almost 11,000 over a 13-year span with three writers) – I feel like I might have written something like that before.
That’s cause for some introspection. Could the enthusiasts be right? Is it lights out for LiveAndLetsFly, Boarding Area… The Points Guy?
What AI Gets Wrong
First, natural language is still a challenge. I entered my own prompt using the title of this post and received the following output:
“AI can help automate the writing process, allowing travel bloggers to spend less time researching and more time writing and publishing content. AI can help travel bloggers increase their efficiency by automating certain tasks such as scheduling posts, finding and sorting high-quality images, and providing in-depth analytics and insights. AI can also be used to help identify and target potential customers, optimize content for search engines, and analyze audience engagement. Additionally, AI can be used to automate customer service tasks, such as responding to customer inquiries and social media engagement.”
The repetition of “AI” and simplistic format is a problem, as is the contextual understanding that we aren’t dealing with “customer inquiries” but rather, reader questions and comments. While there are many great SEO tools on the market, an AI writing tool that idenifies potential [readers], optimizes content, and analyzes audience engagement is still missing from the market though I am sure that’s but a matter of time.
According to Wired, the service can also manufacture facts and events that didn’t actually occur. That’s a problem.
“When a WIRED reporter generated his own obituary using examples from a newspaper as prompts, GPT-3 reliably repeated the format and combined true details like past employers with fabrications like a deadly climbing accident and the names of surviving family members.”
Other attempts were too curosry to be useful in any real capacity and lacked the personal touch that *we hope* readers prefer.
What AI Gets Right
In the aforementioned example, it can be astonishingly accurate. Another Boarding Area blogger generated a credit card post written by AI and it was a decent use case for the technology. The AI got a bunch of the details of the credit card right, and augmenting a post to include links and ensure accuracy would be quick work for that type of content.
There are also some good knowledge pieces that serve searching readers like a breakdown of TSA Precheck that may bring new readers to our site though it may not serve our existing readership as well. The AI can likely form a fairly competent piece in no time for information that some readers (especially new readers) want and need using the vast available details.
While the technology is still in an experimental stage, it’s come a long way in the last few years. Google uses tech based on the same concepts. The company fired an employee for asserting that the technology had become sentient akin to a seven-year-old child with an extensive knowledge of physics. In fairness, the responses did seem eerily sentient, though obviously not. Though creepy, that’s a pretty compelling endorsement for the technology.
Will I Use It?
Call me a dinosaur, call me conceited, call me a purist – I think that travel bloggers and writers of all stripes have more to offer than the current iteration of GPT-3. For obvious examples like trip reports, hotel reviews, and analysis I don’t think that this technology is ready to make writers obsolete.
Generally speaking, writing holds less value to me if it’s not written, evaluated, or conceived by a human. I’d postulate that if AI writing is used en masse, that will actually elevate human-written content for those looking for genuine accounts, though some readers will reduce their overall confidence and reliance on written work if a computer is providing it with little to no checks in place.
I posed a question to a family member who believes that similar technology for images will make those who enter the commands into AI, “artists.” When I posed the question another way, it went like this:
“If I structure prompts, and an outline, then edit an entire book written by AI, am I then an author?”
“Then what do you call someone who conceptualizes, outlines, and actually writes a book?”
Clever, but not close to the right answer for me. I don’t consider someone who feeds queries into a machine an artist, a writer, a creator of any kind and therefore, I don’t intend to use it for content on LiveAndLetsFly.com. I can see the draw, especially for ad copy or general posts on a company website, but not for our readership.
A new AI writing tool using technology called GPT-3 has demonstrated this week a clear advancement in the ability to produce writen content following natural language prompts. Some reviews are glowing, others less so, and my experience with the tech was less than exemplary. While I can see some benefits to AI writing tools, it’s not the right fit for LiveAndLetsFly.com and I am unsure whether human-written content will be elevated, or if all online content will be seen as less valuable.
What do you think? How do you think that AI will change online content, specifically in the travel blogging space? Have you tried the tool yet?