Like many from a media background, I’ve been curious about ChatGPT’s capacity to assist, or even replace, journalists. I’ve seen some more than adequate AI-generated items but wondered about its capacity to advocate and emote – a key component of feature and opinion pieces.
Chris Dodds, Icon’s Managing Director of Growth & Innovation, has been running a series of ChatGPT trials, and we were determined to give it a tough task. We asked ChatGPT to produce opinion pieces on a current, nuanced topic – the Referendum on an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice to Parliament – in the style of several prominent Australian journalists (Virginia Trioli, Laura Tingle, Peter Hartcher and Alan Jones). You can read the full text of the experiment here.
This involved several challenges, ChatGPT’s database is pre-2022, so it was unaware the referendum had already been called.
It struggled with taking an opinionated stance, which became apparent when it initially refused to write a piece opposing the Voice on behalf of Alan Jones. The apparently ‘woke’ AI stated it had to be ‘neutral’, but had no qualms about advocating in favour of the change.
My first shock was how quickly you begin to think of ChatGPT as a person, as you argue and cajole with a back-and-forth of questions and prompts to push it to produce opinions.
ChatGPT’s own effort to write on the Voice was factual, but bland, lacking a human tone or sense of emotion. When asked to mimic individual journalists’ styles it was more engaging.