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Beaten by an AI

Should I be sad, embarrassed, ashamed, or do I need to make more of what is laughably marketed as artificial ‘intelligence’?

By Raymond G. TaylorPublished 3 months ago Updated 2 months ago 4 min read
Top Story - April 2024
Web image modified by author

Wanna know what my most popular story of all time is? Well if we are judging by the number of reads on the Vocal platform it is this one:

Problem is, it was not written by me, it was generated by Chat-GPT, something that has been described as an 'artificial intelligence.'

Okay, fair’s fair. I did write the wraparound article and did spend some time working out the brief for GPT to follow. All detailed in the article if you are interested. But the real deal, the article about the history of a certain suburban town, the meat to my potatoes and two veg, was generated by GPT and not by me. How many hits did it get? To date, the GPT generated article clocked up a total of 334 impressions which, to the mathematical genii among you, will mean it also produced a royalty of exactly $2. Yet despite my obvious contribution to the success of the GPT authored piece of writing, I still feel a bit miffed. Why?

Look at it from my point of view. Other than this article, my most popular story on Vocal produced 195 views. 195! This means that GPT beat me on the numbers by a clear lead of 139. So the best story (judged by the audience) that I wrote myself was roundly beaten by a story generated by Chat-GPT. What was my other story about? It was a dopey tale about a dying dog. A factual account of an abandoned dog that my family took in and looked after for the final weeks of its life. There are a lot of dog-lovers living in my locality, hence the high interest.

Both stories were aimed at the same audience and both were featured in the same local-interest Facebook group.

So what do you think? Should I be pleased, embarrassed, ashamed…? I should add that the wraparound article was all about how chat applications can be used to aid in the writing process. It did demonstrate some of the advantages and disadvantages of using generative AI. This was my doing, my work as an author in researching the subject, carrying out the ‘experiment’, a test run if you like. It was also my skill at devising a research approach that allowed GPT to generate an article that was on-brief.

So, on one hand, it could be argued that it was my skill and effort that produced the interest. On the other, you might think that the local audience was just interested in the history article generated from GPT.

I would be interested in your views so please comment below if you are a Vocal registrant and/or on any Facebook post that links to this article.

At this point it might be worth reviewing some of the advantages and disadvantages of using generative AI to research and/or write a factual article.

Advantages

  • Quick and easy to use if you think carefully about your prompt text
  • Cuts out a lot of time and effort using search engines like Google
  • You are likely to get a list of reference links that you can follow up to verify facts and find out more if you need to
  • Can speed up the writing process generally
  • Text produced by a generative AI app appears to come without any copyright ownership on the part of the software or its owner.

Disadvantages

  • There is a high risk that some of the information in the generated text will be inaccurate or entirely false. All information needs to be independently verified.
  • Articles generated by products like GPT tend to be highly structured and uninteresting in their presentation.
  • Language used by products like GPT can be cliched and not very appealing or creative.
  • There is a risk that some information included in generative text may be protected by copyright. I would suggest this risk is low and can be mitigated by putting the information into your own words and crediting sources where applicable, as you ought to do when researching using other web tools.

There are of course other advantages and disadvantages of using generative AI. But the accuracy issue is a big deal. A lot of information on the web generally is unreliable. AI has no process, that I am aware of, that can replicate the human process of assessing reliability. Why would it? Ignore this characteristic of AI (demonstrating its lack of intelligence) at your peril.

Going back to the original question, my conclusion is that I will use this case of losing a point to an AI as an incentive to write more and do more to promote my work. If I do this, I hope to find that some of my writing will overtake the two articles featured on the scoreboard above.

Watch this space

I am not sure which is worse. Having my most popular article being AI generated or having all of my own work being beaten by a true story about a cute elderly dog.

Thanks for reading

Ray

Process

About the Creator

Raymond G. Taylor

Author based in Kent, England. A writer of fictional short stories in a wide range of genres, he has been a non-fiction writer since the 1980s. Non-fiction subjects include art, history, technology, business, law, and the human condition.

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Reader insights

Nice work

Very well written. Keep up the good work!

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Comments (17)

  • Michelle Liew2 months ago

    Congrats on the TS! I think the way to eat the use of AI is to work hand-in-hand with it, and harness it. Can't beat them, join them!

  • Anna 3 months ago

    Congrats on Top Story!

  • Arhealthi3 months ago

    Congratulations on top story

  • D. D. Lee3 months ago

    I would feel a way about the elderly dog story, you yourself, still had to write the story in a way that engaged and captivated readers. So, good job on that! As for Ai. I have no words. There could be many factors as to why it was so successful. Congrats on Top Story nonetheless.

  • True stories about cute elderly dogs almost always make for feel-good reading... Nothing wrong with that!!! I say if it works go for it. Now, being beaten by AI is kinda embarrassing!!! Just kidding!!! But, that is something to think about. Obviously something about the AI generated story struck a chord in people. Could also possibly be that the AI generated story has keywords in it that make it search engine optimized. While I am not an advocate of using AI to actually write my stories I am not against it. I look at it as just another tool we have in our toolbox. I would take advantage of the potential that you're next AI generated story (if you do another) might top your list of most reads and include links to some of your own stories so more people can discover your talent as a writer. Why not use AI to your advantage? Anyhow, this was a very interesting read I enjoyed it quite a bit. Congratulations on your top story!

  • Esala Gunathilake3 months ago

    Congratulations on your top story.

  • I think it has something to do with the SEO thingy. I don't really know much about it but maybe AI-Generated pieces are generated in a way that has high SEO thingy so it would show up on Google or other search engines. But then again, I can be completely wrong because I don't have much knowledge than it. All I can say is, you don't have to be embarrassed or ashamed. To me, AI stuff is always low quality. Just because that got more attention doesn't mean it has high value. Just think of AI stuff as the dumb jocks from high school. Popular but dumb. That's what AI is. Anyway, congratulations on your Top Story! 🎉💖🎊🎉💖🎊

  • Lamar Wiggins3 months ago

    Very interesting stuff. I find myself using AI only to generate pictures or for elaborating on unclear definitions. I still prefer the old way of researching i.e., Wikipedia and other sources. Great article, Ray! It was written with expertise!

  • Andy Potts3 months ago

    My only experience with AI was from editing sports previews generated by an AI service (don't remember which one). Frankly, it was garbage. I'm quite an experienced sports journalist, so tidying up the turgid style wasn't a big challenge. But the quality of information was awful as well - incorrect scorelines, inability to distinguish between goalscorers and goalkeepers, players making key contributions after being subbed out of the game. And this was consistent, for item after item. From this, I can deduce that the quality of your initial AI prompt was very good (or your audience was happy to read nonsensical AI output, which seems unlikely). Perhaps instead of thinking of the AI as the meat to your veg, it's better to see the meat as what you fed to the computer?

  • Lana V Lynx3 months ago

    Ray, your AI-helped story may be attracting reads from Google and other sources when people search for information about the town, not just from Vocal. I would take pride in solace in that. My most popular story - Ted Lasso Review - was shared in some Ted Lasso fan group outside of Vocal and now it comes up in Google searches, steadily collecting reads even though it was written over a year ago.

  • Stephanie Hoogstad3 months ago

    As far as what made that particular article more popular, I think that it has to do with the interests of the people in the Facebook group, not necessarily the fact that AI contributed to it. It is interesting that your top two most popular articles have such different topics, though. It would make for a compelling study to research some basic demographic information about your readership and see if there’s a particular trend therein—but, of course, you’d have to have the resources for something like that. I think that the only viable way for you to figure out if it’s a matter of the audience’s interest or not is to try to write another article on a similar topic and see if it turns out as well.

  • Very interesting points. I would have been reading the dog story because your picture though :)

  • angela hepworth3 months ago

    Very valid points you brought up here!

  • Joe O’Connor3 months ago

    I like the pros and cons you’ve identified here Ray- and I do think AI can be helpful for research and especially non-fiction articles. It can scan huge amounts of info and compile it together quite nicely, and far quicker than we ever could. Accuracy remains a big concern, and I think for creative writing, it’s lagging far behind us at the moment, and is often quite generic. Food for thought! 🤔

  • Shirley Belk3 months ago

    You bring up some very good and debatable points. But I prefer good old-fashioned research, myself. That way stories don't seem so sterile. And are definitely worth more in value and quality, in my estimation. How do we know for sure if AI doesn't have some computerized/generated hit the like buttons of its own???

  • Mariann Carroll3 months ago

    I feel a story popularity is base on algorithm and how vocal place it for readers.

  • Rachel Deeming3 months ago

    I expect it was local interest and curiosity which drove people to read it, Ray. I think the fact is was AI generated is probably not the single most important determinant. This was interesting discussion though.

Raymond G. TaylorWritten by Raymond G. Taylor

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