We’re all going to need to hustle to stay ahead of that son-of-a-gun ChatGPT, the chatbot that’s proving worryingly adept at all kinds of things: passing bar exams, writing code and creating new Seinfeld episodes.
We journalists, too, need to be looking over our shoulders. Chatbots can gather information and conjure a nice little adjective almost as well as we can, the impudent sods. It’s insulting, really: I wouldn’t have the nerve to go up to a firefighter and tell them they were no longer needed to put out blazes.
If the rug gets pulled for me now on my job, what do I have? I don’t have a plan B. I have a master’s degree in political science. Why did my parents let me do that!?
But I’m not going to spend any more time weeping into my laptop. What I do have are human wiles: so here are some surefire tips to outwit AI and keep the generative wolf from the door.
1. Learn obscure knowledge. AI has me well beaten on several fronts: ChatGPT can magic up a great recipe in seconds; devise a perfect holiday itinerary in moments; and it doesn’t crack under pressure when asked simple follow-up questions. Still, the AI language models are only as good as the information they can scrape off the internet. So, to gain an edge, why not stock up on knowledge that isn’t on the web? The juiciest office gossip, what the best biscuits taste like, how many sparrows are nesting in the hedge near your house. ChatGPT doesn’t know any of this — but I do.
2. Embrace hallucination. ChatGPT and its saucy AI cousins are notorious for sometimes spouting made-up information (“hallucinating”, as AI experts call it). Hey, we all work with people who do a bit of this. But if you really want to go toe-to-toe with AI systems, try popping psychedelics at work — it’ll ensure you can confidently out-gibberish the bots.
3. Learn how to stack bricks and slaughter cattle. These are two jobs ChatGPT is not going to be shit hot at any time soon, according to research from the tech’s developer, OpenAI, which ranked how exposed different careers are to the technology. Time to bone up on new skills — like how to restore the beams in an old cottage, darn socks, gut salmon or simply get the office printer to work.
4. Reinvent your career in Pyongyang, where there’s no ChatGPT to worry about. No? Too bleak?
5. Sharpen your soft skills. ChatGPT is not going to outflank me on emotional intelligence, surely? I can smile or be solemn. I can caveat all requests with “no worries if not” or reply with “interesting” if a colleague says something ridiculous in a meeting, so as not to crush them. I can read facial cues, I can send the right emails to the right people, nod at the right time and — if required — wink at an opportune moment. Just to be safe, and really get my empathy levels soaring, I’m going to listen to some more Phil Collins.
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6. Get comfortable with cheating. GenAI is turbocharging misconduct: people are already using it in interviews and exams. Get ahead of the curve by becoming an everyday miscreant. Say you’ve climbed Mont Blanc, even if you haven’t, or lie about being really good at paragliding, or creating scatter charts in Airtable.
7. Think good thoughts. Don’t feel like reskilling to land an AI-proof job? Maybe just try manifesting one instead.