“Have you got your pants on?”
“Yes Mummy, I’ve got my pretend pants on!”
So said my granddaughter (2 ½) to her mother. She likes to go commando, but this afternoon she was going to a party, and a girl needs to have her REAL pants on to go to a party!
I’ve been thinking a lot about pretend stuff recently.
A lot about the AI explosion.
Some of the benefits of AI, we are told, is that they can do all the boring stuff that we don’t want to do and increase production levels substantially. It cuts down the time we spend on stuff that we HAVE to do, rather than what we WANT to do considerably.
To those of us who are solopreneurs, the idea of being able to write lots of content – or get AI to do it very quickly – has been sold as a boon. While copywriters of my acquaintance are worried that it will put them out of a job.
However, ChatGPT isn’t a “creative” at all. It regurgitates what it finds on the internet. The alarming thing is that so many businesses are flooding social media and training programmes with lots of generic, unoriginal material. AI can be a really useful aid to research and get rid of “blank page syndrome”, but in no way replaces creativity or high-level problem solving. It’s no way to get noticed as your own original self either. It’s no way, on its own, to serve your customers or clients either.
AI doesn’t think out of its own box.
Also, you do need to check your facts. Its much-vaunted benefit as a research tool suffers, when you read about the following:
As reported in “The Week” Magazine, Steven Schwartz, a US Lawyer, recently had to apologise for relying on ChatGPT to do his legal research for him. His use of the AI tool came to light when, during a personal injury case, he submitted court documents citing six cases that had been dredged up for him by the bot. Alas, all of them turned out to have been fabricated. Schwartz said he’d asked ChatGPT if it was sure all the cases were real, and it had assured him that it was… ChatGPT however, merely hoovers up anything it finds that fits the question it has been asked, at the speed of light, but doesn’t actually question anything. It has no judgement or, bless it, idea that there are inaccuracies and downright lies on the internet.
The most pressing thing to be worried about in terms of controlling the spread of AI, seems to be the expansion of all the misinformation that the digital world is awash with. Just think also how easy it would be for someone with malicious intent to spread disinformation, and indeed use the voices of real people to voice falsehoods… pretend (fake) news.
Now, it is the turn of those of us who work in the field of the human voice to be alarmed.
I heard a recording of an AI “bot” speaking in the manner of well-known British radio presenter, Jeremy Vine. The AI was programmed with a short recording of Mr Vine actually speaking, and was then given a topic to speak about. It was instructed to talk about something nonsensical – in this case it was about how he was obsessed with cheese – and the results were uncanny. Sounded very like him; but it was a pretend human voice, spouting words that the real voice owner, Jeremy Vine, didn’t believe in.
This was a fairly harmless experiment, but you can imagine what havoc could be wreaked, if in the wrong hands lies were spread, using the actual voices of politicians or decision makers.
In truth, AI can only emulate the voice of a person to a certain extent. A “real” human voice has a very special personal input, that just isn’t there in AI or “pretend” voices. Human voices are affected by emotional states and cues that convey feelings, intentions and attitudes. The voice alters in the moment, for reasons that AI doesn’t understand.
I think this means that, as well looking at controls on the development of AI (is this possible?), we all need to up our game as human communicators. What AI can’t do, is think outside the box, speak anything that hadn’t been programmed into them. We humans have no such constraints as speakers and communicators; we can crucially connect with the person in the room and go off on tangents, if we judge that that is where we want to. In other words, humans can give real value, inspiration, and support. We need to embrace and value our own ability to use our own authentic natural voice.
And of course, when you are ACTUALLY in the room with someone talking face to face, you are on your own.
So, while we still have the upper hand, it is more important than ever that we show our humanity through our voice, don’t speak up with anyone else’s, but be bold and free with your own authentic voice in the world. Speak from your heart, and your thoughts, in your manner.
And, as well as having our own real voice in the room to really reach our audience, I would always advise wearing your real pants as well!If you would like to improve your effectiveness and inspiration as a speaker and have a strong voice and presence in front of any audience then do contact me, Fiona Whytehead, or book a 20-minute discovery call.