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It’s from the artificial me

Concerns have been rising about students try to get out of doing assignments by using artificial intelligence – so I asked the AI system ChatGPT to write an opinion piece written by me to see how powerful it is.

There are a few caveats here. Firstly, there is a significantly larger library of my work in open source than most people, so the AI would have a better shot at capturing my voice.

Secondly, I did not tell the AI what to write the editorial about – the prompt was simply: “Write an opinion piece by Wairarapa Times-Age journalist Grace Prior”.

ChatGPT’s attempt at writing as me began with: “I have had the privilege of witnessing the breath-taking natural beauty of our region. From the rolling hills of Martinborough’s vineyards to the rugged coastlines of Castlepoint, Wairarapa is truly a gem of New Zealand’s landscape.

“However, amidst this natural splendour, there lies a growing concern that cannot be ignored any longer – the need for Wairarapa to invest in renewable energy sources. As a region heavily reliant on fossil fuels, it is time for us to embrace clean, sustainable energy options for the sake of our environment, our economy, and our future,” the AI said that I said.

After waffling about climate change and current renewable energy sources in Wairarapa, the AI gave a call to action: “Let’s seize this opportunity and make Wairarapa a beacon of sustainable energy for the world to follow.”

It was shocking to read how close the AI was to me, but it did miss a few things – like the fact that 83 per cent of New Zealand’s power was already renewable by 2017, so the full transition would not make that much of a difference to emissions.

With a risk of stating the obvious, the AI is not me, and it missed some subtle stylistic tendencies I have, like using too many run-on sentences [like this one].

Prompting the AI was “for funsies”, but it does point to the possible redundancy of many human occupations – and perhaps even thoughts.

Limitations of AI systems include that they operate with already existing information, although that’s not to say they cannot draw conclusions from large datasets and research – thus creating more information.

The more I think about AI, the more it feels like a dystopian novel – I have quite literally replaced myself and an aspect of my job with a computer version of myself.

ChatGPT, in its current form, could not quite hit the same points as a human in any given argument, but it is coming close.

I could not simply submit what the AI wrote for me because, in subtle ways, what it produced does not quite make sense, but it is convincing.

When used correctly, AI could become an incredibly powerful research tool, cutting out many hours of reading and processing.

The AI was unable to generate an editorial for Nick Grant or Mary Argue, merely echoing the results it gave for me – which may have something to do with the fact that to sign up for the service, I had to supply my email address …

Grace Prior
Grace Prior
Grace Prior is a senior reporter at the Wairarapa Times-Age with a keen interest in environmental issues. Grace is the paper’s health reporter and regularly covers the rural sector, weather, Greater Wellington Regional Council, and coastal stories.

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