The Gist

  • Creative augmentation. ChatGPT is a step-change in the way creatives do their jobs in the future, not a replacement for them.
  • AI-enhanced creativity. Generative AI speeds up the creative process and creates new job opportunities.
  • AI’s potential. The limits of machine intelligence are still present, but the potential for AI to revolutionize the world is significant. 

While the long-term impact of ChatGPT is hard to predict — if the past is prologue and as game-changing, unsettling and paradigm-shifting as its introduction has been — it’s likely just a step-change in the way creatives will do their jobs in the future, not a replacement for them.

As good and humanlike as it is, ChatGPT is still just a machine. And machines lack the essential human elements such as empathy, intuition and experience that go into understanding what makes good marketing effective and bad marketing, well, bad. 

Related Article: ChatGPT and Generative AI Not Replacing Copywriters... Yet

Augmenting, Not Eliminating Human Creativity

“Here's the thing about ChatGPT that I keep telling clients,” said Jared Kozel, executive creative director at Wunderman Thompson. “if you type in, ‘Tell me a story that makes me cry or makes me laugh’, right now, it's not there yet.”

What is happening today is similar to what has happened in the past when game-changing technologies like calculators, personal computers, word processors, search engines, virtual assistants and all of the other technologies that we take for granted today (such as the voice-to-text tool being used to write this article) find mainstream adoption — they augment and change the way things get done but they do not automatically replace or eliminate the human in the loop, said Rowan Curran, Forrester’s lead analyst for large language model generative AI, which is the engine that drives ChatGPT.

“It’s not about totally automating everything,” he said. “It's about improving the overall way that we do these things. And that speaks of the effect it will have on the job market overall. As with any kind of new technology, some jobs will probably be reduced and some eliminated. On the other side, there'll be new jobs that are created as well.”

Related Article: 6 Ways ChatGPT May Change Digital Customer Experience

Generative AI Speeds Up the Creative Process and Creates New Job Opportunities

With the ability of ChatGPT to create almost endless iterations on a theme, Kozel anticipates that it will likely speed up the creative process. Clients will come to expect that, instead of a handful of options being presented to them after a few days or weeks, within a few hours they will be presented with far more and varied options.

“If we have one script that's approved by the client, the expectation might be that we then have 15 versions of it the next day,” said Kozel. “[ChatGPT] is like having a team of 1,000 writers that are looking for some direction on what to write. Ideas are not originating from that tool right now.” 

Learning Opportunities

This is not to say that automation does not eliminate jobs. It does. But that does not mean that people replaced by automation are simply left unemployed. Instead many of them will be doing different higher-value work. Automation and technological advancements also tend to create whole new classes of jobs for people to fill. Computer programmers, data scientists, digital marketers and SEO specialists all come to mind.

What's different today is that ChatGPT is not a robot on a factory floor. It represents a threat to a group of employees who have long considered themselves immune to the vicissitudes of technology. Far from being a demonstration model that makes for good YouTube videos such as Boston Dynamics dancing robots, ChatGPT is useful out of the box. It already is being used by millions of people to write better copy and create art in ways that were not possible before.

The Limits of Machine Intelligence

A good way to think about ChatGPT in its current form, said Arthur Germain, founder and owner of the marketing agency Brandtelling, is as a really good research librarian.

“If you went up to ChatGPT and said, ‘I'm looking for books and resources on this topic,’ it can help you but it’s not suddenly a nuclear physicist," Germain said. "It gets smart when it starts to ask questions. Like if I said I want to find out more about digital transformation and it could come back and say, ‘You know, digital transformation is a big subject, what aspect of it are you interested in?’ That's where human knowledge has yet to be replaced by a machine.” 

According to Curran, this capability may not be all that far away. In the coming years we will see AI training data sets expand exponentially from billions to trillions of parameters. They will also be multimodal, incorporating audio, visual and, perhaps, even olfactory data.

“The hype is deserved,” he said. “That hype is a reflection of real world capability. Some people are saying, ‘ChatGPT ... completely changes the entire world overnight.’ No, I don't think that that's the case. But is the world going to change in the next two, three years because of all this? I think so. Absolutely.”