Addendum: I'm not sure how informative this Q&A has been, but I'm adding a couple of personal takeaways, including the fact that if this column ends up being one of MediaPost's most-read of 2023, I'm going to retire. Well, at least I will retire the name of this column.
Seriously, it will mean that "RTBlog" has officially passed the Turing Test of trade journalism and I'll just let ChatGPT -- or whatever comes next -- weigh in for you each Monday morning.
That's because "RTBlog" was originally conceived to provide commentary on how real-time media technologies -- initially RTB, but more generally, machine automation -- could do things as good as, or even better than humans can.
In the case of RTB -- or real-time bidding -- as well as programmatic media-buying generally, I think the case has been made that it can process real-time audience trades faster and better than people can, even if people still are the ones tweaking the algorithms behind them or deciding when to override them.
I mean, if the headline ChatGPT recommended on this column generates enough readers to become one of our best-read, it definitely is definitely game over time for me as a headline writer, because personally, I think that head sucks.
But it's not that I think I can still write heads better than a machine, it's how much the machines have advanced in being able to write since I began my own personal Turing Testing a decade ago.
Some of you may recall that I first entered into a challenge with what was then a highly advanced AI-based processor of natural language writing -- Persado -- in 2013. It was a John Henry-like challenge in which I staked my reputation against the machine, and we ran a split-run of two versions of a column -- one written by me, and one rewritten, ostensibly more optimally, by Persado.
Actually, Persado just rewrote the headline and the lead paragraph, and then we ran a split-test publishing each version to half of "RTBlog's" email subscriber list to see which one got opened more.
Initially, my version won by a comfortable margin. Ten years later, the margin of my version has grown to nearly two-to-one.
But as I concluded that 2013 column with, it was close enough that -- given enough time -- future generations of machines would eventually be able to write better than me.
Based on my initial test drive of ChatGPT, I don't think that's the case yet. At least not by most measures I would use. Except one. ChatGPT writes really, really fast. (Persado took a couple of weeks to "re-optimize" my copy in 2013.) Just check out the YouTube video above to see how fast.
I write pretty fast myself. I can type about as fast as someone I'm interviewing can talk. But I cannot necessarily think that fast, and it sometimes takes me hours to knock out a column like this one.
So by at least one measure, ChatGPT has already beaten me.
That said, its headline still sucks.
But let's see where we stand a year from now.
In the meantime, do any of you have suggestions for a new name of this column?
ChatGPT is patient. When it writes a headline that you think sucks, just reply "try again" and it will. Guide it a little with suggestions and it will improve, just as people do in a brainstorm session. Don't jude a robot on first impressions. Give it more than one chance.
Judge, I meant. A chatbot would spellcheck.
@Douglas Ferguson: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Infinite_monkey_theorem
ChatGPT is a clear advancement in AI, and the rumor is GPT-4 will be out end of this year (10x over GPT-3).
I find it useful for summarizing short texts, and you have to admit the "snark" above is very good.
If you haven't tried it out, you should just to be aware of the experience yourself - it is an eye-opener. chat.openai.com is URL.
Fair point Douglas. But if you need to prod it for a better headline ... why not write it yourself?
In the future, to show you really care, you'll write your own thank you note or email, rather than assigning the task to an AI. Bonus points for handwritten (though autopen will make that hackable).
@Roger Baker: In the future, I hope readers write their own comments here too and just let their bots post for them where they belong: on Twitter.
Alt title: ChatGPT: The AI-Powered Miracle App that Puts Words in Your Mouth, Without Understanding Any of Them