Generative AI is increasingly available to every person–software that can create works of art, music, video, code, and yes, even writing columns like this one, in response to your written commands. Such software was once the domain of computer scientists or enterprises with deep pockets. Now they’re affordable and rapidly heading toward mass market adoption. (When my 10-year-old grandson showed me his AI art creations on Wonder.AI, where you can make 5 free images a day, I was more convinced than ever that the next generation will be mastering these skills quickly, while not necessarily understanding the power of the model behind them.)
I’ve been playing with AI-generated art for a while. Since I had zero pride in my artistic abilities I considered my results pretty awesome. But this week I tackled AI writing, an area where I have quite a bit more ego.
Eye-opener: The AI writing generative programs are pretty damn good. Thankfully, I’m still a bit more nuanced and better. The bad news? The AI will teach itself to get better a lot faster than I will. I’m self-taught; AI has read more or less everything by everyone and is a great mimic. For the moment, we’re working hand in hand, so I can’t even fault the systems for their poor performance. It’s only as good as what I feed it. We both need to improve.
I played this week with two programs (both of which have free 5-day trial periods). Jasper is the behemoth of Generative AI programs. It costs $999 a year, after the trial. Article Forge has a much lighter footprint, and costs a little more than $300 a year. The two tools both say they don’t plagiarize, but the results of giving similar output to the two systems turned out uncannily alike. That’s probably because they both build articles by digesting much of what’s “printed” on the Internet — from Tweets to Reddits to Wikipedia to newspapers.
While neither of them has captured the Web in its entirety, Jasper claims its underlying capabilities were trained by reading about 10% of the published internet. It will imitate human language, but can also inject innuendo and style. I got to choose whether I wanted to be humorous, or professional, for example.
Ironically, the base training for Jasper was completed at the end of 2019. That means it doesn’t know about events from January 2020 and beyond. Jasper doesn’t know COVID-19 happened, which I only found out about after writing my first Jasper-generated piece. Nonetheless, it faked it pretty well.
Jasper has a couple of tools that writers will find either handy or handcuffing. You can start with templates designed for writing anything from a blog post to social media post to a real estate listing. It works better in “Boss mode” (priced higher) where you give the AI a bit of background about what you’re trying to say and then click on the “generate” button. The content it creates states it has been edited for plagiarism and optimized for Google SEO. Jasper’s also got an impressive roster of clients who don’t mind the price tag. But I wrote to tech support a few times and all I got were what I’m pretty sure were ‘bot letters’ in response.
Since my beat is the Virtual Events Group, a community I run that helps members understand and discuss how we’ll meet in the future, I gave Jasper a relatively simple set of information on that topic.
Here’s what Jasper’s software produced:
“The events industry has experienced a resurgence in recent years, as more and more companies are turning to live events as a way to engage a target audience and build brand awareness. Whether it’s a physical conference, trade show, or networking event, events offer companies a unique opportunity to connect with potential customers in an authentic and engaging way.
In addition to being an effective marketing tool, events also allow businesses to stay up-to-date on industry trends and network with other professionals and connect with their audiences. Whether it’s through virtual events or traditional live events, businesses are seeing the benefits of using this medium to reach their customers and promote their products and services.
With advances in technology and the growing popularity of social media, events have become more accessible and convenient than ever before. Whether you’re interested in attending a live concert, sporting event, or industry conference, there are countless opportunities to experience these events from the comfort of your own home. And with the emergence of virtual events, businesses can even offer customers the opportunity to interact with speakers and other attendees, share information, and explore products in a more intimate setting.
So if you’re looking to connect with your customers and stand out from the competition, consider incorporating events into your marketing strategy. Whether you’re planning an in-person event or experimenting with virtual events, the live events industry is thriving.”
Since that first instruction to Jasper was so plain vanilla, I later added a bit of context (and potentially, bias) for Jasper to work with. I instructed it to move towards the “witty style”, and in the voice of Joe Rogen.
A little fluffy but not bad.
Did Jasper save me time? Heck no. I’m a darn quick writer, and learning a new interface is harder than banging out 500 words of copy. But I can see getting addicted to this for a first draft or for adding final polish in the future.
Article Forge: A One Trick Blogging Pony
I gave similar prompts to Article Forge, which is best at creating blogs and actually integrates with the WordPress website production system. I gave it a similar prompt as I had to Jasper. But again, I got a pretty uninspired article.
It was startlingly, almost plagiaristically similar to what Jasper had produced:
“There are pros and cons of both digital and in-person events. In-person events are generally more effective than digital events because of the emotional connection they can create. They also offer more opportunities for spontaneous engagement, whereas virtual events tend to be more regimented and less personalized. In addition, in-person meetings can be much more fun, as the presence of a real human being can reduce the chance of distraction.
However, virtual events do have some advantages over in-person events. They offer plenty of opportunities for networking and engagement, and can even be integrated with CRM for 1:1 messaging. Moreover, virtual events can be used as a content marketing lever, as well. For example, virtual events can simulate the feel of a live event, including the ability to interact with speakers, a virtual booth, and polls.
Virtual events can be accessed by participants from all over the world. They can impact businesses, create awareness for a cause, and entertain an audience. However, these events need careful planning and implementation to be successful. Moreover, they need to be well-organized and designed to cater to the needs of diverse audiences.
Virtual events are similar to physical events but are held online. They are said to provide rich networking experiences, but do not compromise the essence of the physical event. Moreover, these events can be broadcast live or recorded and can be accessed on-demand. They are considered to be greener and more environmentally friendly than traditional physical events, as they do not involve travel and waste.”
All Words No Magic (for now)
With a little tweaking and perfecting, it’s pretty clear that I have a future using Generative AI for wordsmithing. But if you read the software’s product carefully, you see that while it spits out the right words, it has none of the flair that turns serviceable prose into great writing.