What is ChatGPT?

ChatGPT stands for Chat Generative Pre-trained Transformer. It’s a chatbot by OpenAI which is capable of a huge variety of writing. This has triggered an array of concerns including student essays and phishing emails. Not to mention the most pertinent worry in our sphere - will content writers and copywriters be made redundant?

Some companies are laying off their staff in favour of this new shiny technology, but this is misguided. We’ll explain why.

The purpose of human language

Above what the tech is capable of, we should consider the function of human language and ChatGPT’s limitations.

Josef Pieper wrote about the function of words in his book 'Abuse of Language, Abuse of Power'. He writes about rhetoric:

“First, words convey reality. We speak in order to name and identify something that is real, to identify it for someone, of course — and this points to the second aspect in question, the interpersonal character of human speech.”

This means that for language to be engaging and believable, it must be interpersonal. This is hard for a robot to replicate, no matter how advanced it is.

“Because you are not interested in reality, you are unable to converse. You can give fine speeches, but you simply cannot join in a conversation; you are incapable of dialogue.”

This means that although a robot can simulate an informative and even an eloquent piece of content. The content produced by a robot cannot contribute to a meaningful dialogue, because the robot doesn’t speak from personal experience.

Pieper is talking about certain rhetoricians here, but it can be applied to the prospect of the robot writer. Because it’s called ‘ChatGPT’, you may think it has conversational abilities and that it can mimic a human writer. However, the key word is ‘mimic’. ChatGPT can only reuse observed information and tone of voice. It also has difficulties with factual accuracy. So the information you see produced by it is noticeably vague and impersonal.

ChatGPT’s limitations

This technology doesn’t have a soul. It cannot discern the truth. It is also not interested in human beings or user experience. These factors combined have an impact on the quality and integrity of the content it produces. You may have come across articles on the internet and wondered why they sound robotic. It’s because it’s using this technology. The article will have a well-structured outline of the topic. The final paragraph will be subtitled something like ‘The Bottom Line’. It’s easy to spot after you’ve seen a few of them, so people will become wise to it before long.

Google is for humans

Secondly, we have to consider the direction Google search engine updates are going in. They released significant updates to Helpful Content in 2022. We’ve written a couple of articles on this topic. Some may be familiar with EAT which stands for expertise, authority and trustworthiness. Most recently, Google has added another E to this key contributor to their algorithm - Experience.

To write well, a writer needs relevant personal experience and expertise. A robot may be able to spoof expertise, but the robot doesn’t have experience. It has replicated and rephrased what it has seen elsewhere.

Google Updates are laser-focused on finding robotic content like this and penalising it. Good quality articles by skilled writers will always be more engaging for readers.

That’s not to say there isn’t a place for these tools. Some have rightfully pointed out that if we’re to evolve, we should meet it somewhere in the middle. Content bots can be very useful for drafting up the outline if you're stuck. It can reduce the cognitive load, so you can focus on building on the outline and adding your creativity.

What about Readable’s technology?

Readable is designed to help writers, not replace them. We use algorithms to help you work toward great readability. Great readability opens your writing up to a wider audience. Sometimes we get asked if we have plans to introduce automatic sentence rewording. This would involve working with AI. Our perspective is that this technology is clunky and can cause frustration for users.

Quite often, the rephrasing suggestions won’t make sense in content. Our synonym suggestions, lets you pick the one that makes most sense in context - giving you more control over your content. AI encourages a passivity that results in content that looks like it’s written for a robot. Currently AI cannot replicate all the nuances of language and culture.

Google does not directly include reading level in its algorithms according to its latest statements. However, they encourage using reading level to write for your audience. This underlines the importance of writing for the user, not the search engine. Developments in search engine technology are based on the behaviour of human beings.

Dave Child

Dave is the founder of Readable and has been building websites since the early 90s. He’s one of those fortunate people who gets to do what he loves for a living.