You asked: Why so much on AI?
“Why all this stuff on AI?” you ask.
“I thought this website was about white papers?”
You’re right. It is. Allow me to explain.
I believe AI is a game-changer for all writers today.
A black hole that every writer is being sucked through.
A singularity that changes everything.
And here’s why.
I’ve written about software my entire career
I played with Eliza—the program that simulated a Rogerian psychotherapist—in the 1980s.
From time to time, I would see something promising about AI. But it always seemed to fizzle out.
I stuck to writing about enterprise software, supply chains, open source: the kind of software that actually gets things done.
A couple of years ago, I saw a report from IT consulting firm Gartner saying that soon AI would be writing emails, blog posts, and white papers.
“AI will never be able to write white papers,” I thought smugly. “They’re just too long and difficult.”
See this article for my thoughts on AI from a couple years ago.
I’ll never forget the first time
Fast forward to October 2022, when ChatGPT was first released to the public.
I didn’t get into it right away. But I heard the media noise. Who didn’t?
When I eventually got curious, I sat on the waitlist for weeks. I didn’t get a chance to try it for myself until February 2023.
But I’ll never forget the first time.
It was like an electric shock going through my body.
I felt like the floor was melting and swallowing me up. The walls were swirling.
I was getting pulled through a black hole.
“This is it!” I thought. “The Singularity!”
Now, some people throw around that term very loosely. In fact, there are more than 15 different definitions for a singularity.
But I’ve read Ray Kurweil‘s book “The Singularity Is Near“.
And it lays out quite a scientific argument for artificial intelligence overcoming human intelligence.
By the way, Kurzweil is not a nutbar.
He’s a respected inventor with a long career as a technologist. He sold an invention to Xerox and later worked at Google.
I highly recommend his book to anyone seeking more background on what’s happening today.
And here’s what I mean in this context: The Singularity is an event or discovery that changes everything, so we can’t begin to imagine what will happen next.
I feel like that’s happening to all writers today
ChatGPT and other AI writing aids have brought us to the singularity.
The first time I used it, I realized ChatGPT can outline and draft content as well as most of the writers I’ve ever worked with.
And it can do that at least 10X as fast.
That changes everything about making a living as a writer:
- How every project is budgeted and scheduled
- How every client calculates their fees
- How every writer positions themselves
- How every writer must adjust our rates
I will never again say, “AI won’t get to white papers.”
Because it will. And it has. And I proved it with the white paper I wrote a few weeks after trying ChatGPT.
My experimental white paper written by ChatGPT is a viable white paper.
It was researched and written about as well as I could do it.
And despite my learning curve and the silly mistakes I made prompting it, it was done in one-tenth the time.
After that proof of concept, I consciously decided to learn about AI, to test it out, and to help other writers understand what it means for our careers.
And especially what ChatGPT and similar AIs mean for writing white papers.
So far I’ve published all this material on AI:
—An interview with ChatGPT: What ChatGPT says about white papers
—My policies on responsible AI for my company
I haven’t forgotten about white papers. Not by a long stretch.
But I’m here to help you think about how AI is going to affect the production of some white papers very soon… and every white paper eventually.
There’s still a wealth of information on this site about planning, writing, reviewing, designing, and promoting white papers the traditional way.
We’re still a long way from simply pressing a button to generate a flawless white paper. But some people think we’re already there.
So the more you know about white papers, the better you can guide your prospects to get good results.
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