There’s been a lot of excitement about Artificial Intelligence (AI) lately, much of focused on long-standing “big questions” like “is AI really intelligent” (short answer, no)

I don’t have an answer to that, so I’ll stick to the easier questions like “will a robot take my job”. I’ve argued before that this isn’t a good way to think about the issue. New technology has been changing the way we work for centuries, and will continue to do so. But for particular jobs being transformed by technological change, it is certainly relevant.

One area that’s moved ahead very rapidly is the generation of human-like text. The cutting edge here is a program called GPT-3, launched in 2020, which can produce impressive looking philosophical discussions. The underlying research has already been commercialised with products like Jasper, which has the much more prosaic (literally!) goal of producing advertising copy, blog posts and so on.

Jasper clearly won’t pass a Turing test if you ask for anything complex, but it is very good for its intended purpose: turning out text that looks as if a human wrote it. This has big implications for a large category of jobs, notably including many that the late David Graeber called “bullsh*t jobs”.

As an example, a fair bit of the content of a typical newspaper consists of press releases that have been lightly edited and perhaps spiced up a bit. With Jasper, the time taken for this task goes from an hour or so to a few minutes. For that matter, the press release itself can be generated from a few prompts in a similarly short time.

As with previous tech advances, that’s not likely to create mass unemployment any time soon. But it will mean that this kind of routine copywriting will be done much faster, by writers who have the skills to give programs like Jasper the right prompts, and then to touch up the final output. And this will extend to lots of admin jobs that have previously been immune from technical change.

Lots of middle management jobs, for example, involve writing memos and reports justifying one corporate decision or another. After you read a few, they all seem the same. AI can distil the essence well enough to mimic the style. After that, it’s just a matter of fitting the verbiage around the desired conclusion.

Over the fold, a few examples.

Here’s an output sample I produced in a couple of minutes, using a couple of prompts such as “create change” (UQ’s current marketing slogan) and Shanghai rankings

If you’re looking for a top-quality university that will help you create change in the world, look no further than the University of Queensland. UQ has a proud history of producing leaders and changemakers, and its graduates are highly sought-after by employers all over the world. UQ is consistently ranked as one of the world’s top universities. In the 2019 Shanghai Ranking, UQ was ranked 28th in the world and first in Australia for overall university performance. The Shanghai Ranking is one of the most respected university rankings in the world.

A longer version is here.

Most of the info has been scraped from websites, including UQ’s own. But Jasper provides a plagiarism checker to assure that it isn’t simply a cut-and-past job. The 28th figure looks a bit suspicious to me, but I assume someone at UQ has found a definition of “overall university performance” that fits the bill.

So, if I were told I had a morning to produce a puff piece for every university in Australia, I’d say I could do it with Jasper, and still have time for an early lunch.

And here’s what I got when I asked Jasper to argue that trail running is better than triathlon, using some first-person testimony. I’m almost convinced.

Finally, for those worried about contract cheating, here’s Jasper pitching its essay writing services, then denouncing itself as a threat to education.

6 thoughts on “

  1. But is it really intelligent?

    It’s just another machine that does data gathering and other stuff well. But that doesn’t fit with my definition of intelligence.

  2. Good question rog “But is it really intelligent?”

    The “Ai-Da” Robot.
    The Blue Screen of Death of the 21st Century. Bill Gates must be thrilled.

    “and needed to be rebooted halfway through the session.”
    “Typos and shutdowns: robot ‘gives evidence’ to Lords committee

    “Ai-Da, described as ‘world’s first ultra-realistic robot artist’, struggles at times to answer peers’ questions”

    Dall E does better – with specific prompts.

  3. JQ, not sure whether you’ll ever officially retire. But should you do so, I am pretty sure you’ll never be bored.
    Love the blurb you generated.

  4. JQ, choose any voice – Irson Wells? – for your inurgural;

    AI podcast.

    “Welcome to, a podcast that is entirely generated by artificial intelligence. Every week, we explore a new topic in depth, and listeners cansuggest topics or even guests and hosts for future episodes. Whether you’re a machine learning enthusiast, just want to hear your favorite topics covered in a new way or even just want to listen to voices from the past brought back to life, this is the podcast for you.””

  5. Jasper the unicorn “raised $125 million at a $1.5 billion valuation.”

    A trillion generated images? And a trillion $’s?

    Better do that post on ephemera JQ. And generative AI opportunity costs.

    “That kind of growth has set off a feeding frenzy among investors hoping to get in early on the next big thing.

    “Jasper, a year-old A.I. copywriting app for marketers, recently raised $125 million at a $1.5 billion valuation. Start-ups have raised millions more to apply generative A.I. to areas like gaming, programming and advertising.

    “Sequoia Capital, the venture capital firm, recently said in a blog post that it thought generative A.I. could create “trillions of dollars of economic value.”

    “But no generative A.I. project has created as much buzz — or as much controversy — as Stable Diffusion.

    “In Silicon Valley, crypto and the metaverse are out. Generative A.I. is in.”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s