At first glance this blog post about ChatGPT by Jay Acunzo seems to be relatively innocuous. You know the usual stuff: be yourself online, don’t fret about the results, and so on. You’ve read it.
Instead, I had really stumbled upon a piece that resonated with me about the uncanny valley we find ourselves in with the recent “AI boom.”
What specifically struck me about Jay’s post was this:
Q: Why do we worry these tools are greater masters of our craft than we are?
A: We’re obsessed with only one part of the craft, and it’s the exact same part AI is getting alarmingly good at owning.
Right in the chest. Let’s dig in.
The main thrust of Acunzo’s piece is our constant obsession of adopting other people’s process to the point of total homogeneity has left most workers vulnerable to being replaced by AI. And easily.
This widespread adoption of the exact same process without critical consideration is the meaning behind the term “industry standard” – which just means “the thing everyone uses because nobody wants to take a risk on anything new.” It’s by definition average.
These “industry standards” exist in nearly every corner of commercial enterprise - creative included. Take a visit to the Youtube homepage and you’ll see an endless stream of highly optimized Youtube videos that are virtually indistinguishable from one another.
The constant dread of the looming AI age is based on the belief that infinitely cheaper AI tools will soon be writing our blog posts and marketing copy, responding to our customer service requests, coding our software, and handling almost everything you can learn in a few weeks or months of training. This has been a supposed threat for a long time to repetitive computer work, but ChatGPT and Dall-E 2 have now brought that threat to the doorstep of “creative” departments at all levels.
AI is a “threat” because we’ve started acting like computers long ago in search of greater efficiency with lower effort. When most of our “creations” are formulaic it’s easy for some code to replace the last part of the chain: us.
Even the previously rare job of “CEOs writing heartfelt layoff emails” is all but automated now:
🤖 ⚡️ insert aggrieved employee name here, human ⚡️
Tell me that doesn’t read like every squishy but ultimately hollow layoff letter you’ve read in the last 90 days.
In the modern digital world of infinite sameness it’s not “AI” that’s coming for our jobs; the problem started when we conned ourselves into thinking this endless volley of word soup is actually creative work. The next phase, the AI part, is just futuristic-looking madlibs that do the same thing — and nearly for free.
What’s the solution then?
In short: See the world in your own irreplaceable way, develop processes that serve your unique way of working instead of “industry standard” tutorial hell, and practice your heart out until there’s no way an AI can possibly do what you do better. Branch out, take a risk, carve out your own piece of the creative economy.
If that doesn’t apply to your line of work, better polish up that resume. Or get ChatGPT to do it.