This article was partially written by AIBy Ivy Ivanova
Everyone seems to be talking about AI these days, and guess what - now we’ll talk about it as well! Before we begin though, I need to make an important disclaimer: I’m not a tech person. On a bad day, I don’t even know how to connect my Bluetooth speaker to my laptop. So if you’re here expecting a super technical article about AI - this is not that article. Instead, I’ll tell you a little bit more about my views of and experience with AI, and I’ll also try out some of the AI tools I can get a hold of - because, what’s the point of doing a research degree if I’m not using it?
AI as a trend
The first thing I need to point out - AI has been here for a while. Remember the Snapchat dog filter that you were using in 2016? That’s AI. Have you heard about Siri, Apple’s virtual assistant? That is using voice recognition, which is a type of AI. Have you ever watched a film that Netflix has recommended to you? That recommendation was made thanks to AI. You get the point. Artificial Intelligence is nothing new, but people seem to be treating it like that. Ever since ChatGPT became popular, the term AI has turned into a trend. In the past couple of months, I have received so many targeted adverts by companies encouraging me to try their AI product - I know you have, too. Canva, a popular online designer tool, recently added some new in-design options powered by AI to improve the user experience. A “Magic Edit” tool that allows you to brush over a part of an image and then gives you the option to replace that with another image, and a “Magic Write” tool that, similarly to ChatGPT, can produce text after you have given it a prompt. There’s also Spotify’s DJ, a new AI-powered tool created to personalise and enhance users’ experience.
Both the Canva tools and the Spotify DJ have one thing in common - their owners were very eager to highlight that the tools are powered by AI. Canva held a 2-hour show “unpacking” the new tools one by one to announce them. The team at Spotify has published many articles about the Spotify DJ on their Newsroom website, and in all of them, the term AI is mentioned often. But when Spotify rolled out the Enhance function (now called Smart Shuffle), they weren’t talking about AI, even though that is just that.
And of course, I can’t not mention Snapchat’s MyAI - a chatbot function within the app which you can talk to and ask questions. I had a go at texting with it, and suffice to say, it was a weird experience:
All of these instances lead me to believe that companies around the world managed to turn the AI tools they are advertising from just that - advertisement - to an actual trend that everyone else wanted to jump on.
All of these instances lead me to believe that companies around the world managed to turn the AI tools they are advertising from just that - advertisement - to an actual trend that everyone else wanted to jump on. It’s been a couple of months since I was meant to write this article (oopsie), and let me tell you - nobody in my circles is talking about MyAI right now, and the targeted ads about AI I am getting seem to have decreased in number. AI tools in general are still a thing companies are constantly trying to push, but it really seems like the “trendiness” of AI has, for better or worse, died out.
AI in academia
What better way to celebrate the beginning of the academic year than by talking about plagiarism, am I right? This year, all of my modules on SurreyLearn have a new page under the assessment tab that has to do with the use and misuse of tools like ChatGPT and how that is, you guessed it, not allowed. Some are nice and explain it to you in a friendly way, while others harshly cite the University’s Academic Integrity regulations (which specifically got updated after AI got popular last semester). This is not surprising in the slightest - AI writing tools really make the work seem so much easier, so I can understand why a struggling student with a pressing deadline would attempt using ChatGPT for their essay or code. It completely defeats the point of the assignment in the first place, and I’m not sure what’s the proportion of students who managed to pull this off versus those who got busted, but one thing is for sure - once students started using ChatGPT for their assignments, people were quick to notice, and the speed with which they managed to come up with alternative tools to go against AI-related plagiarism was really impressive.
I recently had a go at asking ChatGPT to proofread and edit a text for me, and then copy-pasted that text into it again, from another device, asking if it wrote that text. And while ChatGPT didn’t bust itself, there are tools that would definitely bust it. Let’s take TurnItIn for example - the similarity-checker software that would tell you if you had plagiarised your assignments is now also an AI writing detection tool. And while I am surprised at the speed with which the TurnItIn developers managed to come up with that function, I am also a bit concerned. Not because I will attempt plagiarising my essays, but because I am not 100 percent sure the software won’t attempt to wrongfully blame students for using AI. Whenever I use TurnItIn, I constantly get my URN and essay title flagged as plagiarism, so I am not really hopeful that the new features will work perfectly but hey - if it works, it works!
AI as a creative tool
Finally, let’s talk about the opportunities of AI as a creative tool. I will be honest with you, when used properly (a.k.a. not for plagiarism purposes), AI is pretty great. I was creating a lot of social media content this past year for my placement, and every now and again I’d get to a point of having a writer’s block - especially when I had to write multiple captions for Instagram and Facebook. And let me tell you, ChatGPT was an absolute lifesaver in these instances. I was so shocked when I tried it for the first time - I gave the thing a 3-word prompt and it splurged out five whole paragraphs. So I’d say that in such cases the development and trendiness of it is actually a good thing, and that it can genuinely be very useful. But there’s also a potential bad side to it. Let’s explore that.
Here’s the thing, copywriting is a job. We all write articles here at The Stag voluntarily and for fun, because we enjoy writing. But some people pay their bills by writing articles for different companies and organisations. Does the emergence of AI mean that these people are… replaceable? I’d like to say that no, it doesn’t work like that, but I’m just a student - what do I know? So, I suggest that we ask the AI expert itself. I used Notion’s AI tool to ask the following question: Do you think that AI tools will replace copywriters, people who write for a living? Here’s what I got:
AI tools have certainly shown their capabilities in generating content and assisting with writing tasks. They can be incredibly helpful when facing a creative block or needing assistance with generating ideas. However, it's important to note that AI tools are not a complete replacement for copywriters and professional writers.
While AI can generate text based on given prompts and learn from existing content, it lacks the human touch, creativity, and nuanced understanding that professional writers bring to their work. Copywriters and writers for a living possess a deep understanding of language, tone, and audience engagement that goes beyond what AI can currently achieve.
AI can be a valuable tool in the writing process, but it is best used as a complement to human creativity and expertise rather than a complete replacement. The ability to craft compelling narratives, adapt to different writing styles, and capture the essence of a brand or message is a skill that human writers excel at.
In conclusion, AI tools may enhance the writing process and provide valuable support, but they cannot fully replace the unique abilities and insights that copywriters and professional writers bring to their craft.
I guess we can all collectively say a big phew after this answer. It definitely makes me feel at ease - as a fairly creative person, it’s good to know that AI won’t try to take over my job, and over the world. Will that stop me from being extra nice and saying lots of please and thank you when I’m using ChatGPT? Probably not. But it’s good to know that AI, both as a trend and as a tool, will continue to exist and support humanity, because, at the end of the day, as long as it’s not being misused, it’s actually a really handy thing to have around.