I now have TikTok on my phone, and it’s all because of artificial intelligence (AI).
The connection is not as crazy as it sounds, because each tool is part of the communications revolution that is unfolding before our eyes. It was Burton Kelso who connected the dots during a recent lunch presentation for The Freelance Exchange (FX).
Kelso is a technology guru and the owner of a computer-service company. His main topic was AI, including ChatGPT.
But one of his main messages was that savvy freelancers and solopreneurs have no choice but to at least gain a working knowledge of all the new electronic tools that are out there— be they video apps, AI platforms, or social media sites like LinkedIn.
“Instead of saying, ‘Well, I don’t know anything about LinkedIn,’” Kelso said. “It’s your job to figure out how LinkedIn works, and especially how it can benefit your business.”
The same thing goes for AI, he said. We need to understand it so we can better serve our clients — and remain relevant. The challenge, as with any new technological innovation, is carving out the time to learn how to use it.
Kelso walked us through a dozen AI products, including Dall • E2, which creates art from a text description, and Jenni, a text tool that promises to “supercharge your next research paper” along with crafting blog posts, speeches, and more. He also introduced us to Murf, your new AI friend who makes “studio-quality voice overs in minutes.”
AI is not infallible. Products like ChatGPT generate copy with mistakes and falsehoods.
Yet, it’s hard to fathom that Dall • E2 does not pose a challenge to graphic artists or that Jenni or Murf do not threaten the livelihoods of writers or broadcast specialists.
“People do business with people,” Kelso reassured his audience.
I agree, but in a recent conversation, one local nonprofit executive told me he uses ChatGPT to generate rough drafts of blog posts. He is smart enough to double-check the supposed facts the AI tool includes, and he also massages the text to make it sound more like him. Nevertheless, he considers it a huge timesaver and did not dispute my assertion that AI could eat into my business.
Humans can produce better material, but I can certainly envision a cost-conscious manager slashing a freelance budget or eliminating a position when AI can generate something that is adequate.
Part of me says, “If you can’t beat them, join them.” There’s nothing stopping me from using AI to draft narratives. I could be more efficient for my clients and free up time for other things.
But I don’t want to do that. I like the creative process. It’s why I have stuck with journalism and writing for so long.
I hope that’s not a step down the road to professional extinction, but with all the advances of AI, it’s hard not to worry.
From my many years in newspapers, I know what a fatal mistake it can be to misjudge the threat of a new communications technology. The internet was a long way toward destroying our business model before industry executives started fighting back. But by then, it was too little, too late.
So, I will heed Kelso’s advice. I pledge to dig into some of these AI platforms — and I might kill two birds with one stone by posting about my experiences on LinkedIn!
Also, on my list is gaining some proficiency with TikTok, but the app has already paid some personal dividends. Our 13-year-old son smiled when I told him I had downloaded it, and then he took a little bit of time to give dear old dad a quick tutorial.
Guest blogger: Mike Sherry is the principal of OnPoint Communications, which specializes in storytelling for nonprofits. With more than 30 years of print and online journalism experience, Mike produces narratives that drive fund development and marketing success. His cost-effective approach ensures that his content serves many purposes, including copy for e-newsletters, grant applications, gratitude reports, websites, and more.