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Everyone’s chatting about it

Is ChatGPT the next big thing? James Evelegh has a play.

By James Evelegh

Everyone’s chatting about it

The arrival of ChatGPT at the end of last year has got everyone talking. Sophisticated chatbots are being described as one of those once in a generation leaps forward, which is presumably why Microsoft has invested billions of dollars into OpenAI, the company behind ChatGPT.

The technology is incredible. I typed in the following question yesterday: What is the outlook for the UK magazine sector?

This is what I got back in a matter of seconds:

“The UK magazine sector has faced a challenging environment in recent years, with declining print readership and increasing competition from digital media. However, there are still opportunities for the sector to thrive.

On the positive side, the UK has a strong tradition of quality print journalism, which continues to appeal to a significant portion of the population. Many magazines have also successfully diversified into digital formats, such as online editions and mobile apps, to reach a wider audience.

In addition, some niche magazines have carved out a strong and loyal readership base, which could provide a platform for growth. For example, specialist publications in areas such as fashion, beauty, and hobbies have shown resilience in the face of broader industry challenges.

However, the magazine sector will need to continue to adapt and evolve to remain relevant in a rapidly changing media landscape. This could include developing new revenue streams, such as events or membership schemes, and investing in innovative technologies and distribution models.

Overall, while the UK magazine sector may face challenges, there are still opportunities for growth and innovation for those who are able to navigate the changing landscape.”

Not perfect, a bit bland, superficial and characterless, but still pretty amazing.

The technology poses significant questions for publishers (and society as a whole). It’s certainly competition; type in ‘salmon en croute recipe’, ‘what is the best way to apply eye-liner’, ‘when should i prune my roses’, ‘how to put up a shelf’ and you will see why. It’s also possibly extra resource, though if we start using chatbots to create anything other than the simplest content, where’s the value add? What then do publishers bring to the table?

Issues such as attribution, plagiarism, quality and accuracy are all massive challenges facing chatbots and it’s too early in the lifecyle to predict how it will all play out.

The future of publishing is quite possibly showing ourselves to be the antithesis of chatbots. We should emphasise the humanity of what we do, the real people behind the content we create; bring our authors and correspondents to the fore and celebrate them.

Chatbots are likely to be a factor in all our thinking very soon, but before you use it to write your next editorial, take great care. To the question ‘should rishi sunak resign’ (just playing), the answer contained the following paragraph:

“In the case of Rishi Sunak, as the current Chancellor of the Exchequer in the UK, any decision to resign would be a significant one, with potentially wide-ranging implications for the government and the wider political landscape. However, any such decision would ultimately be up to Mr. Sunak himself.”

There’s hope for humans yet.

You can catch James Evelegh’s regular column in the InPubWeekly newsletter, which you can register to receive here.