The Next Web, ChatGPT, and The Creator Economy
Since its launch, ChatGPT has been revolutionizing a multitude of industries globally. To navigate this disruption, employees must develop skills to work alongside AI and harness its power for the greater good. What’s more, employers must promote a stronger human-tech relationship to their team members to leverage not just their tech skills, but also their human skills.
On today’s episode of Startups On Demand, I am joined by Ebony-Storm Halladay, Writer at The Next Web. We talk about the narrative of ChatGPT replacing humans vs. the reality of AI creating more job opportunities, the problems in the current school system, and how AI tools supplement mentorship for Gen Zs.
Omri: Can you tell us something about yourself?
Ebony: Where to start? I left formal education when I was 18. I never went to university, it didn’t seem right at the time. When I was 19, I took an apprenticeship with a communications consultancy, and I started developing a career there in social media. About a year and a half later, I went freelance, so at 20, I was remote working. Most of my contracts and clients were in social media, then it moved a little bit more to the editorial space, then it moved to copywriting. And right now, basically, I sell words for a living, which is awesome.
Omri: What are your thoughts about ChatGPT and how revolutionary it is to the whole industry?
Ebony: I’ve been spending a lot of time on LinkedIn because I’m working on my social media strategy right now. That’s what I’ve been doing for over the last few months. And one day, a barrage of hashtags about ChatGPT came along, and it seemed like everyone in my community had something to say about it or questions to ask about it, and for me, I think there are two sides to it: a) a person who’s curious about tech, who interviews people in tech and writes tech stories, and b) there’s also this person who’s making a living as a writer. Personally, I think it’s going to be transformative. A huge portion of what I do is going to be done by AI – if not now, very soon. But in the short term, it’s going to give more work for us as writers: editing and figuring out the right thing to input. People are literally going to specialize in that. And then there’s this narrative that’s like “robots are gonna steal our jobs” – sure, maybe bits of them. But that’s also going to create more jobs. We have to move with and not against technology. In the wider context, I think employees should encourage their teams to play with AI. This narrative that “robots are gonna replace humans” is damaging to that human-tech relationship, and we need to show that tools like ChatGPT are something to engage with and not something to fear. The more AI and tech take on these certain aspects of work, the more value that humans will get for their human skills – we’re talking creativity, empathy, and critical thinking. The stuff that makes us human is going to become increasingly valuable.
Omri: What are your thoughts about editors resisting ChatGPT-human combined content? Does it matter who wrote the article if the results are the same?
Ebony: That’s such an interesting case study. It comes back to that quote “there’s no such thing as an original idea.” I thought of two words: authenticity and disclosure. I think people crave authenticity, so I think there’s a moral issue there if this quote was constructed by technology and not by humans, then it feels like it crosses that boundary and it doesn’t feel quite authentic when a robot produced it and a human didn’t sit down and think about it. And I think disclosure is massively important. So there’s a communication piece around this – if we’re going to be using ChatGPT in that way, we have to be having this conversation and we have to be transparent, especially in writing and media. Of course, we might get to a point where it’s assumed that things are a combination of humans and AI, and it might be okay. But right now, it’s so new and fresh. In my business, it’s something I will be very open and transparent about.
Omri: There’s been a debate about ChatGPT replacing school and search engines. In the end, the knowledge that creators have is a combination of school-based experiences and internet research, so the end product of humans and AI would look exactly the same. What do you think about that?
Ebony: I read something earlier called “Can ChatGPT fill in mentorship gaps for Gen Z workers?” We’re talking about the Gen Z’s who got jobs during the pandemic or only now going into organizations and discovering that a lot of them have a hybrid or remote work setup. Many of them are struggling with corporate or workplace skills, and of course, they are, because they don’t have the context or environmental experience, so we’re already talking about how ChatGPT can bridge that gap. The way they applied it was if a young person had a question about how they would approach a manager for a raise or have a conversation about annual leave, etc. They can ask ChatGPT how you would word that. And it’s not gonna be perfect, it’s gonna lack personalization, but it is gonna provide them an edge and guidance, and it’s supplementary to actual mentorship, and I think that’s what’s important here: it’s supplementary, not a replacement. I don’t think technology truly replaces us – it displaces us, moves us around a little bit, and shakes us up, right?
Omri: What do you think about the school system potentially holding back the creativity of people to thrive in the real world?
Ebony: That’s a bit tricky because I think schools have an incredible problem right now because the world is moving so quickly that if you set a curriculum, I imagine it’s going to get outdated pretty fast. But I think there are new educators in the scene as well, I think that’s what we also probably need to cover.
The way I think about it is that everything I do – my job, and my career – is thanks to the internet. It’s that and the fact that I met incredible mentors in my first job and incredible freelance colleagues throughout my career, that have really supported my development, that has been amazing. I think relationships are some of the most important forces in your education and your career. And ChatGPT is probably going to be to the younger generation what the internet was to me in my career. That’s what created opportunities for me.