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Should You Use AI to Write Content?

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Artificial Intelligence (AI) has been in the news a lot lately. For months now, every email newsletter I subscribe to has written at least once about ChatGPT or AI. My productivity app Notion offered me beta access to their AI tools and now they’re charging for the tools. My creative app, Canva, has added AI tools to describe a visual to create. Evernote has AI for organizing notebooks. Gmail has been suggesting auto fill wording for a while. And don’t get me started on the tweets about the Bing AI chatbot encounters.


A couple of years ago, I even purchased an app that was going to help me create blogs that ranked (SEO). I never took the time to learn how to use it effectively. I’ve tried some of the various AI tools and I’m not impressed. As with all technology, the first versions can be a bit rough.


Whether you embrace the AI opportunities, run screaming from the room, or stand firmly somewhere in the middle, AI is here to stay.


Limitations


However, be aware there are limitations.

  • I liked the short and sweet list of limitations from Notion. It may give…

    • Incorrect information

    • Harmful content

    • Outdated results

    • Biased responses


  • According to ChatGPT, limitations include:

    • It sometimes gives incorrect or nonsensical answers

    • Depending on how you phrase your question, it can answer correctly or not know the answer

    • Often verbose and overuses certain phrases (is “I’m a good Bing” going to be one of those phrases?)

    • Current model guesses what the user intended instead of asking clarifying questions

    • Sometimes may give harmful instructions or exhibit biased behavior


You will need to be on the lookout for biased responses because your ideal readers, clients, and audience may be underrepresented in the data used to train the AI software. I couldn’t find any data on the demographics of content creators and their content that ChatGPT used for training, but extrapolating from the Pew Research Center Internet/Broadband Fact Sheet (latest data 2021), Social Media Fact Sheet (latest data 2021), and the 1% rule, I’d have to say that there is likely an age, race, gender, income, education, and community (urban, suburban, rural) bias to ChatGPT. What’s the age of your audience? What are their demographics?


But it’s not just the bias from the programming and data sources. The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), which is part of the U.S. Department of Commerce, states, “rooting out bias in artificial intelligence will require addressing human and systemic biases as well.” (There’s More to AI Bias Than Biased Data, NIST Report Highlights).


Possible Copyright Infringement


AI software is trained using large amounts of data scraped from the internet — 8 million web pages for ChatGPT, 5 billion images (art generators), 54 million public GitHub repositories (GitHub Copilot). And it may not all be free of copyright and licensing requirements.


You’ll need to be more aware of plagiarism concerns. Is the text provided copied directly from someone’s website? That’s what happened to an individual volunteering with Fair Districts PA (FDPA). Having asked ChatGPT to write a memo on redistricting, imagine his surprise when he saw that the AI-generated text was almost verbatim from the FDPA website.


Lucky for us, both ProWritingAid and Grammarly have a plagiarism checker.


If your book cover uses AI-generated art from Midjourney, Stable Diffusion, or DevianArt’s DreamUp, a lawsuit has been brought alleging that these organizations have infringed the rights of artists by training the AI tools without the consent of the original artists. It’s a complicated question and new legal ground to establish. I’m sure there will be more legal reviews and lots of discussion over the next several years and maybe even decades.


That’s not to say you shouldn’t use it. But if you are going to use AI generative tools—read the Terms of Service, Privacy Policy or any other agreements you’re required to “accept” before using. Don’t just skim it. Read it! Download it! Review it annually! And download all updates.


Can you copyright it?


According to the U.S. Copyright Office, AI created images can’t be copyrighted because they lack “human authorship.”


Which brings up more questions.

  • Does that apply to writing?

  • How much content in a book or blog must be authored by a human to be copyrighted?

  • Will this always be the case?

  • Will this apply to countries other than the U.S.?

Of course, the answer to all of those questions is a resounding “who knows!” Until cases are brought to the courts, issues discussed, and rulings handed down, we won’t know the full extent of what can and cannot be copyrighted.


Related to that, the AI entity that creates products is not recognized as the inventor by the U.K. Intellectual Property Office, the European Patent Office, nor the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. However, Australia and South Africa have ruled that AI inventions can be protected.


All I know is that writing is a creative journey for me while editing an AI-generated paragraph is not.


Reasons to use AI


AI and ChatGPT are tools that can help you get past the blank page. A client mentioned she uses it to get started on emails requesting recommendations. A fellow writer uses it to get started on a blog topic. I’ve found some great words to include on a web page.


Also check out how Joanna Penn used her suite of generative AI tools to write creative content in an ethical manner.


Resource Roundup

tl;dr

  • AI is here to stay

  • There are limitations to AI-generated content

  • If you use it, keep an eye out for the latest in AI & copyright news

  • Download and READ all terms of service, agreements, etc.

  • Learn it, try it, use it, but definitely EDIT it!


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