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Man vs Machine: Where Should We Draw the Line with AI Writing Tools?

November 16, 2023
The Recognized Authority Podcast Cover

The podcast that helps experts & consultants on the journey to becoming a recognized authority in your field, so you can increase your impact, command premium fees, work less hours, and never have to suffer a bad-fit client again!.

Are you worried that using AI writing tools means you didn’t actually write your own content? Where exactly should we draw the ethical line when leveraging artificial intelligence for content creation?

In this thought-provoking episode of The Recognized Authority podcast, host Alastair McDermott debates these tricky questions with returning guest Joe Casabona, expert podcaster and author.

You’ll hear a nuanced discussion around:

  • How to think about AI assistance in writing and content creation
  • Where AI can help versus replace in the creative process
  • How iterative prompting can shape the AI output
  • Whether AI will ever replicate truly original human ideas
  • The importance of the human editorial eye in approving AI-generated content
  • What we potentially stand to lose in fully outsourcing creative work to machines

If you’re feeling uncertain about how to responsibly and effectively leverage AI tools like ChatGPT in your business and content creation, don’t miss this lively exchange of perspectives. Tune in now to help shape your own ethical framework.

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Show Notes

Guest Bio

Joe started his career over 20 years ago as a freelance web developer before realizing his true passion, which is sharing his years of knowledge about website development, podcasting and course creator to help creators create more easily.


Alastair McDermott 0:00
One of the things I think is super important when you’re building authority is writing. And it’s like a cornerstone of building authority because you putting your thoughts into words, and then publishing them in public. It’s sharing your expertise, demonstrating your knowledge. It’s creating this body of work that builds trust with your audience and your potential clients who encounter it. It’s also a bit of a cliche at this point, but the word author is the base of the word authority. And I’m also a huge fan of using available tools and technology. And so I like my take on using AI is that we should use it in the same way that an accountant should use a calculator or a spreadsheet. It’s there to assist us and to help make us better and do things more efficiently. And so when my friend Joe said that using AI, to write something is akin to saying, I used a car to run a marathon, I reacted like any normal human being, and I blocked him on LinkedIn. No, I’m just kidding. I didn’t block him. What I did was I invited him on to my podcast to debate the issue. And I think we had a pretty great conversation about this, even if I do say so myself. And while we entered the conversation, I think, without having fully formulated or thinking on this, because, hey, it’s such a new issue.

Alastair McDermott 1:35
I’m going to write a bit more about my conclusions and takeaways from this on my email list. So if you haven’t joined already, go check out the recognized Sign up for my email. I put a lot of my thoughts and conclusions about this topic and about other topics related to building authority on there.

Alastair McDermott 1:55
Thanks for listening, and on with the debate.

Voiceover 1:58
Welcome to The Recognized Authority, a podcast that helps specialized consultants and domain experts on your journey to become known as an authority in your field. So you can increase your reach, have more impact and work with great clients. Here’s your host, Alastair McDermott.

Alastair McDermott 2:13
My guest is Joe Casabona. Today we are going to discuss can and should we use AI to write for us welcome, Joe. Thanks for having me. Alastair. I’m excited to talk about this. Joe, you are somebody who’s been on the show before you were on? I think it was Episode 36 – yep – so 36 back in October of 2021. So two years later, we’re here again, chatting. And so you have ruffled some feathers with what you’ve been saying about AI on LinkedIn, and people are blocking you and stuff like that. Because you’re you’re really poking poking, folks. So can you tell me a little bit about what you said about AI? And let’s get into it.

Joe Casabona 2:51
Yeah, so this, so the impetus for this chat was actually the second apparently inflammatory post I’ve made about AI. The first one was telling AI to act like a doctor with 20 years experience makes it a doctor, as much as telling George Clooney to act like a doctor makes him a doctor. People got real mad at that.

Joe Casabona 3:20
And so I decided to follow it up with I saw a post somewhere in some community about how this person was writing 25,000 words a month using AI. And I’m like, Well, that means you’re not writing 25,000 words a month. AI is writing some of those words. And so I posted across social media, saying I used AI to write my book, or I use AI to write a blog post today is like saying, I used my car to run a marathon. And a lot of people got mad you and I had a spirited debate on that post.

Alastair McDermott 3:52
We certainly did. I think that the analogy is not perfect, like all analogies, but there is some truth to what you’re saying as well. So that’s why I wanted to get you on the show and to just chat about it rather than just blocking you, you know? Yeah, absolutely. Right,

Joe Casabona 4:05
reasonable. I’m all about reasonable discourse. And so when someone is being unreasonable, I no longer go for it. So the in in one case, this person just liked to hear themselves talk. And so I would say something and then they would say something, and then I would respond, and then they would respond with a non sequitur. And I’m like, Well, you’re not worth arguing with. Because you are not we’re not arguing, right, or we’re not debating whatever you want to say. But you and I point counterpoint, right?

Alastair McDermott 4:37
Reasonable discourse. Well, of course, as podcasters you know, we do like to talk a little bit as well.

Joe Casabona 4:43
Yes, I will. I won’t deny that I like hearing myself talk. But usually I like hearing myself talk about whatever is relevant in the conversation.

Alastair McDermott 4:52
So let’s talk about this then. Alright, so let’s talk about the first one right, I’m using AI to write my book, or I’m using AI to write a blog post a day. And you’re saying that’s like I’m using my car to write, or to run a marathon. But so the issue for me is, well, you can be using AI to help write something. And it not be like getting in your car at the start of a marathon and just driving to the endline. Right? You can actually use it in a way. And so when you dig into the nuance, you really do need to dig in to figure out how they’re actually using it. Because it’s possible to write something. I mean, you like you can just give ChatGPT a bunch of prompts and have it spit back out a an extremely mediocre, almost by definition, mediocre because it’s kind of the average of all of the information that it’s learned is what it’s outputting. So but yeah, and I think that most people who are using it to create content, I would like to say aren’t using it that way, or definitely shouldn’t use it that way. Right? Yeah.

Joe Casabona 5:55
So this is where I think we’re in agreement. And yes, my so this makes my post ambiguous, right? Because I envision this. I’ve like the example I told you where someone was, right, I’m writing 25,000 words a day, a week or a month, whatever with, with AI. I’ve also talked to people who are like, oh, yeah, I’ve used AI to write full chapters of my book. And I’m like, You didn’t write the book, then like, you didn’t write that chapter. If those are not your words, you didn’t write it. And so like, if you use your car to drive to where the marathon is happening, and then you run the 26 miles, no, argue no bones about that. Right? Absolutely, definitely use your car. Unless you’re like a maniac who like runs to the marathon and then runs the marathon. I know people like that. But let’s say most of us are normal human beings, you’re gonna drive yourself to the starting line. Right? Just like use AI for research ideation, outlining, maybe, maybe giving you a jump off point. Those are fine, right? Because then you’re gonna take that raw material, and turn it into your words and your book. And I don’t have a I do that. I do that. So I don’t have a problem with that, per se.

Alastair McDermott 7:21
Right. So the issue for me is, if if somebody is saying that they’re refusing to use AI to help with the process of content creation, I think that as a content creator, that is like an accountant saying, Oh, I don’t use spreadsheets or calculators, you know, I think you’re absolutely nuts, not to use AI, because of how much data can help and support us. And the way that I feel about it is, it can make somebody who was good at producing good content, it can make them much more effective and efficient at creating good content, and maybe even raise the quality of that good content up a notch. Because it’s able to do things much faster, like some of the stuff that some of us might see as BS, like spelling and grammar and things like that. They need to be done right. But you know, we don’t like to be, you know, going around fixing that kind of stuff when we could be writing a new chapter or coming up with new ideas. So that’s where it is, for me is like, I think you’re nuts if you’re not using it for that.

Joe Casabona 8:18
Yeah, I agree wholeheartedly, right. I agree wholeheartedly with that statement. In fact, I have a course on LinkedIn learning called generative AI for podcasters. And I talk about everything that you can use generative AI for one of those things is creating a listener avatar for your show. And let me tell you, I did this for my show to see what it would come up with. And if I didn’t know AI generated it, I would have thought they were describing a real person. And so that gives me clarity for who I’m talking to, especially in the beginning, right? If I don’t have an audience, I need somebody to talk to until I build that audience. And so I agree wholeheartedly with that statement. I used AI this morning to write a press release, because I don’t think I can write press releases. And the I don’t know, maybe they’re just more factual than blog posts. And then like, I’m having a friend punch it up for me to make it not sound like AI. But I don’t I wouldn’t say I wrote that. Press Release, right. I would say I used AI to write a press release.

Alastair McDermott 9:31
You see, now we’re getting into semantics. And yeah, that’s, that’s I hate when these arguments get into semantics. Now, I think when I see AI creating stuff like and I’m gonna read something that AI wrote, so are you ready to unlock the clandestine power of AI and delve into a realm of endless possibilities in the modern digital landscape staying ahead as the new normal unlock the secrets of? I think that that is such BS that is just crap content. I hope you didn’t get any of that in your shoes. I mean, you can use AI to write good content that doesn’t sound like that. And that’s where, like, that’s where I worry, because I see a lot of people using it and creating rubbish content. And then I see people saying things that sound like don’t use AI. And that’s, that’s my concern is like, Well, yeah, do use it, but use it in the right way.

Joe Casabona 10:21
use it judiciously. I think I think we both we kind of came to this conclusion ahead of time, right? I think we both are closer in our beliefs than we initially thought, right? There was another person who commented, saying, like, if, if my audience can’t tell the difference between what I write and what I wrote, why am I going to waste my time. And I very bluntly said, that’s, that’s a problem with you, not your audience. Like if you can’t, if you can’t write, in your own voice, or a voice, it’s differentiated from whatever you just read, they’re about clandestine, something, something’s, right. That means that you’re a bad writer. And if I’m a bad runner, and I want to get better at running, I’m not going to drive everywhere. I’m going to run more. If I don’t care about writing, fine. But I’m also not going to call myself a writer.

Alastair McDermott 11:19
I think that one thing that is super important to me is using AI to get faster and more efficient, and be more productive. And I a friend of mine challenged me to go and quantify because there’s, there’s a great book, and it’s called How to measure anything. But he said, Can you quantify how much AI is how much more effective, it’s making it more efficient. And it was making me about 40% more efficient at writing content, or creating content. Now, we got to get specific about the words that we use here. But, but I’m still writing that content. And the ideas are still coming from me. Even though it’s applying a lot of the grunt work. And this is where, you know, like, I think of, like, if this was okay, I just made some I just made some lamb kebabs in the kitchen. Right, I was talking to I was down, I went downstairs cooking, and I left the marinading or so when I was when I went down to cook those. I chopped some onions in a spinning chopping device. I know what you’d call it. But it basically shredded the onions down super quick in like five seconds, boom, done. I wouldn’t have made it back in time for this call if I had done it manually. So. So is that the say that I didn’t cook that meal? You know? So? No, it’s just I used a tool that may be more effective. That’s that’s the point it like, I still decided what I was gonna make, you know.

Joe Casabona 12:45
Yeah. But so but I think right where we are, we are we are different, different in our analogy, is my analogy was more like you going to a restaurant buying lamb kabobs and then saying I made these, right?

Alastair McDermott 13:03
Yeah, okay. Right. That’s the other issue that comes into this, when it comes into like writing and creating content is there is a learning process that occurs in your brain when you write, because you have to formulate the thoughts and put those thoughts together. And this is where I could see it potentially being dangerous for people who are not experts in the field. Because if they’re using AI to generate and to write for them, they’re not going through that learning process where they’re actually putting the ideas together in their head. And I think another friend of mine said something like, editing is learning or editing is thinking, I can’t remember something, something like that. It could be could be Jonathan Stark or something like that. But the idea that so the idea is, you know, if you already have great ideas, and you’ve thought a lot about your topic, and you’ve maybe written about it, then using AI can really speed up what you’re doing. But if you’re not at that stage, then it may be potentially going to damage the journey. That’s that’s a real concern for me, for somebody who’s trying to become an expert and an authority in their field, which is something that I think a lot about, how do you think about that?

Joe Casabona 14:15
Yeah, I agree wholeheartedly, right. And like I have, so I have three small kids, right? They’re six, three, and two, my three year old, can do so can do thing more things at three than my oldest could do at three. And it’s not about aptitude. And it’s not about skill. It’s that my wife and I did more for our oldest because we didn’t think she could do it. So we just did it for her, instead of telling her to do it herself or try it herself. Whereas we learned and with our son, he tries to he tries to do something first we make him try to do it first. And so he developed the skill faster. So when you’re talking about, you know, using AI to do things, instead of doing it yourself, that’s exactly what I thought of. If I’m tying my shoes for my daughter, she’s never going to learn how to tie her shoes.

Alastair McDermott 15:18
So then the question becomes, well, what if we have a society and we’ll take that analogy, where we have machines that will just tie our shoes for us every day? And it’s super simple and very quick, do we ever need to learn how to tie your shoes?

Joe Casabona 15:34
Yeah, that’s a good question. Right? Or maybe we just all wear crocs, like in the movie Idiocracy. Right? Which crocs was not known when that movie was made. I don’t know if you know this. Here’s a quick tangent. The wardrobe designer for Idiocracy was looking for just kind of generic futuristic looking shoes, and they found this little known company. And it was crocs. And they’re like, these, nobody will wear these ever. Like they’re so hideous. And now they’re probably the most common shoe.

Alastair McDermott 16:10
I read that come from that movie. Well, yeah, a product placement that did it.

Joe Casabona 16:13
No, it wasn’t it like wasn’t even product placement. She just short sourced the shoes. Okay, or movie. Crazy, right? So I mean, maybe the movie helped to get big, but it was not known. And the wardrobe designer didn’t think anybody would be wearing them. That’s why they went with those shoes. Point being right. My father in law thinks a lot about that with maps, right? He like knows how to read a real map. And I don’t. And you know, he’s like, if an EMP ever goes off, most of the world is screwed. Like me wholeheartedly. Like if computers didn’t exist, I’d be dead basically. And so I think a lot about that, right? Like, are we moving towards some futuristic like Walley esque world, where we’re all in the these moveable chairs, and we’re all fat and just watching TV because we don’t need to do anything because machines do it all for us. But do we lose humanity at that point? Like, do we lose our humanity at that point?

Alastair McDermott 17:16
Yeah. You know, I mean, maybe that’s just beyond the scope of what we’re talking about. Because it’s just that’s like, that’s so far. Yeah, that’s real heavy. Yeah. But, I mean, like, I’m sure that people said the same thing. When the calculator was created, you know, yeah, oh, people aren’t going to do maths in their head anymore. And that’s, you know, that’s our brains are going to shrink. I even heard somebody talking about I think it was Erasmus, the philosopher and mathematician complained when the printing press was invented, that there was going to be too much content created. Yeah, and that the quality of content was good. It was going to be mediocre and bad, it would be harder for good quality content to surface. And yeah, that was, you know, when was that? The 1600s. So I’m showing my terrible history here with not knowing the date.

Joe Casabona 18:15
You know, I’m sorry, knows the 1400s 1400s the printing press was invented. Like the same year Leonardo da Vinci was born. And I only know that because I just started reading Walter Isaacson’s book on Leonardo da Vinci. Yes.

Alastair McDermott 18:28
He’s a fascinating character. And I’ve been in his house that he had in, in France. He lives beside the French king in in the Loire Valley. Oh, yeah. fascinating place to visit. But now, that’s a tangent. So, the so whenever this new technology has come along, people people are saying, okay, that, you know, the the end is nigh. But let’s talk about the practicalities. The, the situation where somebody wants to use AI to write when when is it a good idea to use it? When is it not a good idea to use it?

Joe Casabona 19:07
Yeah, I think I think like with any technology, we are learning, we’re learning, right? It’s a new technology. And so just like when phones first came out, it didn’t have all of the screen time focus filters, parental controls that we have now. So we’re definitely in like the call it the AI Renaissance. Maybe we’re all trying to maybe it’s pre Renaissance, right, because Renaissance is like the really good age, right? But so we’re like pre Renaissance. We’re just trying stuff now. And so I’m taking a very hard line skepticism of people who say, Oh, yeah, you can literally use AI for anything. Because I think that what we can’t use AI for is is anything that requires The human element telling stories, writing, right? If I just want, here’s an example, right? I tried this, right? Because I’m not just like someone who says don’t do it, and I’m not going to try it. I’m gonna try it. So I wrote a primer for AI. So I prompted ChatGPT for and I said, Write me a 700 word blog post, basically explaining AI and large language models. And like, obviously, you got the facts, right. I knew the facts already, because I had done my own research. done my own reading on the topic. But it was just like a flat telling of what AI is. And so I had to punch it up. I talked about Star Wars. And I added my own personal anecdotes. And what I kept from that blog post was basically like two bulleted lists of like, what large language models are and some ideas that you that you could use for them? Did I? Did I write that blog post? I wrote? I don’t know. 90% of it. And so would people read it? If I just took what ChatGPT gave me and published it? I don’t think so. Because there’s no hook. There’s nothing that grabbed me.

Alastair McDermott 21:23
So So what if you asked you to add a hook?

Joe Casabona 21:27
It still wouldn’t be my hook. Right? Like it would

Alastair McDermott 21:29
be like, then you can say, you know, I don’t like that hook. Give me three other options. What about using the hook that does something else and suggest one?

Joe Casabona 21:38
It’s still not me writing it? It’s still not my voice. Right. And so

Alastair McDermott 21:43
you see that? That’s? That’s the question. I mean, you can like the way that I use it, I use it in a very iterative way. So I’ll get feed while I’ll get output. And I’ll say, I don’t like that call to action. I don’t like that opening hook. I suggest me another hook or use this as a hook. And and am I not then writing it? No,

Joe Casabona 22:03
I don’t think you are. You’re telling someone else to write it. ChatGPT is basically your ghostwriter. Yeah,

Alastair McDermott 22:11
so I mean, that’s the question. And like, I think they’re like there becomes there becomes a line. And I think that this is a spectrum where if you iterate on something enough times and ask for enough changes, that it becomes your words. I mean, it has to,

Joe Casabona 22:25
but they’re not your words. Right?

Alastair McDermott 22:28
Well, I don’t know about that. I mean, if you say

Joe Casabona 22:30
no, there’s words that you extracted from the large language model.

Alastair McDermott 22:36
Yeah. So I mean, the I mean, I guess this is where we disagree, because I think that at some point, like, it’s a question of what are you feeding in? Like, what are the instructions? And how detailed are those instructions you’re feeding in, in terms of asking you to generate something, because some people will feed in a one line prompt, some people will feed in a 10 line prompt, some people will, will feed in a five line prompt, and you know, 3000 words that they’ve already written, generated somehow, for example, both of us probably generate a lot of words through through podcast transcripts. So we could take the transcript of this conversation. And I could say, just pull out Alastair is side of this conversation. Now go through Alastair is what else you said, and summarize that give me a detailed summary of that. Now write that as a blog post. Right. Are you saying that’s that’s me writing that or not writing that?

Joe Casabona 23:39
Know, I wouldn’t say you’re writing it, I would say it’s your words being used.

Alastair McDermott 23:43
Right? You see that to me sounds like semantics because it

Joe Casabona 23:47
but it’s the difference between like a biography and autobiography, right.

Alastair McDermott 23:55
Yeah, I guess maybe we’re gonna not going to just we’re not going to agree on this. Because I think that having an A biography, I guess it’s kind of like maybe it’s an authorized biography where that where the person is standing over the shoulder of the writer and saying, Hey, yes, I do. Or I don’t, you know, but

Joe Casabona 24:11
yeah, yeah, right. Isaacson interviewed, he didn’t interview Steve Jobs, or Leonardo da Vinci, obviously, but he interviewed a bunch of people who knew him and then has footage and all this and put something together for the Steve Jobs book. We’ll say. I wouldn’t, even though a lot of those words are probably Steve Jobs in his life. I wouldn’t say Steve Jobs wrote that.

Alastair McDermott 24:32
Yeah. So So Okay. Apart from the fact that we maybe are in disagreement over that, where I think it’s important is like right now, this is not that important, I think, because the words that it’s generating without any editing are just not good enough to pass for human. But

Joe Casabona 24:51
yeah, we. We wholly agree on that. Yeah.

Alastair McDermott 24:55
But at some point, they will. At some point, it’s going to get good enough. For us to, to not be able to tell or for, you know, 99% of us not to be able to tell.

Joe Casabona 25:06
Right? I think you’re probably right about that. And

Alastair McDermott 25:09
then we have other things that come along, like custom GPS, I did a livestream about this last week where I made a custom GPT. And I uploaded four of my books to it. So I now have a custom ChatGPT bot, that knows what I’ve said about a topic and knows my writing style. So if I then say, you know, give me, you know, give me a blog post about this topic, based on what I wrote in that book, it’s able to create a new blog post that kind of synthesizes the ideas from that. And it’s an it’s going to be in a fairly close, it’s still not going to be perfect, but it’s gonna be fairly close to what I said.

Joe Casabona 25:48
It’s gonna be Yeah, it’s gonna be fairly close to what you said. But it’s not going to be what it might not be what Aleister in 2023 would write. Because since you wrote those books, I know what you just wrote around this time last year, but those previous books will say, you were a different person, right? Some people say that we change every two years, right? Like, yeah, you look back at yourself two years ago, and you feel like you’re a different person. So that’s where AI and ChatGPT will always fail, right? It could have all the words I’ve ever written. But when I’m 40 years old, two years from now, I’m going to have an a preteen. And to and to other small children, and I might be living in a different house, and I have a bunch of different life experiences that I will use to relate my ideas to other people. And so I think I want to I want to say this thought before I lose it, because when you were talking about prompting and iterating it’s the I think that’s the difference between like being a visionary. And being the actual worker. Right, Steve again? Well, I’ll just use Steve Jobs again, I guess, Steve Jobs was a visionary for the iPhone. But no one would ever say he physically made the iPhone, right. Because he, he got it, he tested it, a bunch of people provided feedback. And the iPhone that came out was from innovations from engineers. And it was really the first thing of its kind. To take this example one step further. You saw a lot of copycats after that, right, that weren’t as good as the iPhone, or whatever, pick your favorite phone, I guess. weren’t as good as the iPhone. But were imitations based on what they knew about the iPhone. So I, I, I’m maybe pulling together an analogy here. That’s not that’s kind of half baked. But, you know, I think it’s kind of the difference between like the visionary doing the work, and then like copying the original work.

Alastair McDermott 28:00
Yeah. So that, I guess, like I’m trying to, I’m still trying to figure this out. Because, for example, I when I drive, I sometimes narrate and record or dictate. Yeah, and quite often, I will do that into the otter app on my phone. Okay, so I open Yeah, yeah. And so what I’ll do is I’ll record some stuff in there. And, like, that might be an idea for a blog post, or it could be for a podcast episode, or just something about my to do for for the day. But quite often, I’ll take that text and run it through ChatGPT. And I’ll say, clean this up, give it to me in bullet points, or give it to me in the form of a table. You know, I asked for that today I was I was looking at updating a product. And I said I want I want you to give me the you know, the new pricing and the new product features and in the form of a table. So that that kind of thing. Like we’re I’m dictating in like, I feel, well, that’s me writing, you know, even if it does some significant cleanup, those ideas are still coming from me. And not only that, but when it’s doing the cleanup, the cleanup that it’s doing is based on my suggestions. It’s not like it’s coming up with if I say you know what I want you to, you know, that’s too wordy, like the one I like I always say make it more concise, more directly written and remove filler and fluff, right. And when it does that, lo and behold, it starts to sound a lot more like I write, and I don’t know if that’s because of like I write more and more Firstly, because of an engineering background or whatever. But I tend not to write in that in that kind of way where it’s quite wordy. So, but I feel like I am writing when I when I when I give it those instructions, because what’s coming out is my ideas in my voice sounding like me and has been edited by me maybe through an iterative editing process where I talk to the AI and by the way Quite literally, I mean, I use ChatGPT on my phone where I use the voice dictation input feature. So quite often I’m actually having a conversation, literally where I’m speaking to it. And yet I feel like I’m writing that. And I think that maybe this is a semantics thing. But, you know, do you disagree with me?

Joe Casabona 30:20
I, well, they’re definitely your ideas, right? I would when I do this with audio pen, right, and maybe I’m not using the right tool, right. I never feel like what it comes up with, is suitably me write it takes what I say. And it turns it into some language. And if it’s just like a social posts, like maybe I don’t care, maybe I’ll just throw that up. But I have very rarely felt like what I got back from an AI was something that I felt I couldn’t have done a better job writing or editing. Right. And so this is probably this is obviously very subjective. I think that I think that if you are dictating the words, right, this could be semantics, right? If you listen to a bunch of books on audible, are you reading those books? Right? Or like you’re cheating a little bit, right? Because like, you can listen to it at 1x. And you’re hearing it faster than then you’re reading it? And maybe, but maybe you’re not comprehending it as well either. Right. So like, I think that we need to consider what we’re losing with the shortcut. And so if you’re dictating and iterating, and you eventually get something that’s good, what have you given up to get to that point? I think that’s the and that’s different for everybody.

Alastair McDermott 31:53
The so right to take the argument that you made an argument, which is effectively, the output that I’ve seen so far isn’t good enough. Now, my counterpoint to that is, that’s irrelevant, because at some point, Soon, it will be good enough, whether that’s ChatGPT, five, or GPT, 4.1, or whatever, at some point, that output is probably going to be good enough for you know, 99%. Of, of uses. Now, I think that you know, there’s always going to be that last, the last 1%, that it’s never going to going to, there’s never going to get to in terms of quality of output know, what I’m talking about here, by the way, is in writing style. I think that in terms of actually formulating and having new ideas, and synthesizing new ideas from nothing. I think that that’s like, that’s not generative AI that’s not, you know, ChatGPT. And those models, there might be some other type of of AI that comes along and can do that. But but that’s not really what we’re talking about here. Right.

Joe Casabona 32:56
Right. Yeah. In this moment, right. The thing I’m running with now, is you talking at an AI and coming up with some writing in the new iterating over that writing? Yeah, I think you’re probably right, right, especially with these GP like these custom TPTs. I could feed one. I’ve been writing on the internet for 20 years. Right now, the way I wrote in 20, in 2003, was very bad. So maybe I gave it the last five years of me writing, it’s probably going to do a pretty good job. A pretty decent facsimile of how I would write something. Right. And I still wouldn’t say I wrote it, because I didn’t write it. Right. It’s, I covered the 26 miles. But I didn’t run it. So I shouldn’t be celebrated for it. I think that’s the big thing.

Alastair McDermott 33:54
Right? Yeah. And so for me, if I, if I dictate for an hour as I’m driving on a topic, right, and let’s say I dictate an hour is about, like 10 or 12,000 words, something like that, maybe maybe not, not that many, but it’s somewhere around that, right. And if I dictate for an hour about a topic, and I come up, but let’s say it’s 1000 words, and then I put that through generative AI, I might not go through each ChatGPT might be too much for that. But I boil that down, and I clean that up on a user to reformat it and put in the nice headings and things like that. My argument is I wrote that those ideas came from me. The the order that things came in came from me the ideas and the fact that I had an editor come come around afterwards, humans have been doing that forever, where we’ve been giving content to editors and getting them cleaned up after us. We’re still saying we wrote it. This

Joe Casabona 34:49
is the this is your most compelling argument, right? Because you’ve put in an hour’s worth of work. And like yeah, my book my last book, right? A HTML and CSS a visual quickstart guide. I wrote, I say I wrote that book. I’m the only author on that book. But my editor reworded, large swaths of that book. And this was actually something I wrestled with. I was like, Can I even say I wrote this, like he rewrote this, basically, can I say I wrote it. But ultimately, we both like, that’s the job he’s in. Right, we both agreed that I wrote it. Because I put together the outline, I ordered everything, I wrote the code, I put the ideas down. And then he restructured it in the format of that book series.

Alastair McDermott 35:45
And the other argument there is, if you hadn’t done your part, then your editor could not have done their mark, you’re

Joe Casabona 35:53
right, he would not have been able to do his thing.

Alastair McDermott 35:57
And so the issue right now is, I think that what we are creating with AI, for the most part, if you’re an expert in your field, what you are going to create with AI is going to be vastly different than somebody who is not an expert in the field, because they’re not going to know when it gives you some sort of mediocre bland, I put that that isn’t good enough. Whereas an expert will look at the output and say, Actually, it’s missing something really fundamental, or something that I feel is fundamental to my distinct point of view on this topic. Yeah. And when once you add that, then I think you’ve got something valuable. And then it, it then goes to the kind of like the value pricing versus hourly pricing discussion, where and just to summarize that really quickly, the that argument is you shouldn’t build hourly, because it shouldn’t matter how long something takes, it should matter how valuable the output is to your client. And in fact, like, for example, if I’m editing a video for somebody, let’s say it takes me two hours. And I’m able to find a tool that lets me do it in one hour, should I continue to do with the slow way and charge them twice as much? And that’s where the ethics of hourly billing come in. And that’s why Jonathan Stark talks about that on his show ditching hourly. But so in the same way, like, you know, should we avoid using these tools that help us to do these things much quicker? I mean, and and I think that there is a connection between those concepts. So I haven’t articulated that very well. But I think that, you know, that the like, we shouldn’t necessarily have to do things the slow way, in order to claim the value of the work, it should be about the value of the output. And is this good output? Not? Did you write this? Or did you run the marathon manually? Like it? It depends on the goal, right? If the goal is to run the marathon, in order for to have the achievement of the health and the fitness, then that’s one thing. If the goal is to get 26 points, one, two miles, yeah, whatever it 120 If the goal is to just travel A to B 26.1 miles, then yeah, if we can, you know, if we, if we can use a jetpack to get there. We’ve got there in the end. So that’s all that matters. You know, that’s that. That’s my argument on that is like, it’s what’s the value of the airport? I

Joe Casabona 38:18
need? 6.2. Okay,

Alastair McDermott 38:21
I really should know this, like I volunteered at Delta marathon two weeks ago. Anyway, so. So yeah, so for me, it’s like, what’s the value of the airport? And is the output? And then I guess the argument is, who’s, who are we talking about the value to? Or are we talking about the value to the consumer of the of the output, or to the creator of the output? Because then it brings back in the issue of learning from the writing process. Right. And that wraps back around to what we talked about at the start learning? Yeah, I think, yes.

Joe Casabona 38:55
And I think you’re right, right. Again, like if your goal is just to cover the distance, do whatever you need to do to cover the distance, right. But I don’t think just covering the distance should be celebrated. I think this is really where I’m at, right? If someone’s gonna wear the badge of honor for doing a marathon for running a marathon, than they need to run it, just like if somebody is wearing the badge of I authored this book. Right? Then they need to, let’s take your dictated example. Right, I will, I will see this point to you. They need to get all of the ideas down. There. The book needs to be fully their ideas. They can’t say ChatGPT. I’m writing a book about podcasting. Chapter One is how to start a podcast, write that chapter, and then slap their name on it. This is I am, I am unmoving in that opinion.

Alastair McDermott 39:59
Okay, so what about they say, chapter one is going to be you know how to write apart how to create a podcast? Here are the five sections I’m going to have in this chapter. Can you think of anything I might have missed?

Joe Casabona 40:15
That’s ideation. And I think it’s I think ChatGPT are AI in general is great for that.

Alastair McDermott 40:22
And so what we’re talking about then like, see, there’s a lot of nuance to this. Really, there’s a lot of nuance this argument is

Joe Casabona 40:28
just like, I mean, like, nothing’s black and white, right, like, but there is right. Am I Am I cheating by wearing running shoes in a marathon? No,

Alastair McDermott 40:38
it’d be crazy. Do you know that there are running shoes that have these kind of compressed blades of carbon that actually make you run faster? That cost lots and lots of money, but that? Oh, no, I didn’t know that. Yeah, they’ve helped them break the two hour mark on the marathon, kiddo. Yeah. So. So there you go. I don’t know. I don’t know how long a marathon is. But I know that you can get shoes that that will actually make you faster. Right? Yeah. Well,

Joe Casabona 41:05
it’s just like, you know, in baseball, right. Is is taking performance enhancing drugs. Cheating. Like, can you can you say you hit the you still have the mechanics? I don’t know. Yeah.

Alastair McDermott 41:15
But yeah. And yeah. Okay. That’s, that’s a whole. So I guess, are we using performance enhancing AI? You know? Yeah,

Joe Casabona 41:23
exactly. So yeah. But I would say for your example, like I use, I use ChatGPT, for ideation all the time. Because I’m just me. And and that’s what it’s great for, right? Because it has all of this information at your fingertips. So I think that that example, is great. You’re essentially in training mode at that point. Right? Well, then the next is analogy to

Alastair McDermott 41:49
then the next step there is, so we’re using it for it. We’re using it for ideas. And then are we like, are we using it to? What’s the word? So if we’re using it’s like, we’re saying, hey, oh, I forgot that, please, please add that to the list and write a section on it. At that point, you’re saying it’s moving out of ideation into writing it for you? Right, right.

Joe Casabona 42:18
Because now it’s thought of it and is doing the work for you, right? If it’s just like, Oh, I forgot that, like, oh, live shows is a way to make money with podcasts. Yeah. But when I say write a section on live, but not like, like, if you know that if you know, live shows inside out, and you get to write that and they say, oh, you know, and this is this is actually my point is,

Alastair McDermott 42:40
ultimately it should be about the human doing the QA, the quality assurance, on the products on the output. And if we have the human doing the quality assurance, the QA on everything that it outputs, and that human being signs off and says, Yes, I you know, I put my stamp of approval by by publishing this or doing whatever I do, then the like, surely, that’s you’ve written it, because you, you have brought most of the ideas to the table, you’ve added to that using whatever tool you use, be it you know, a text editor, or a magnet to use the ones and zeros manually, if you really want to do that, you know, what you’ve edited in some way. And then you’ve, you’ve you’ve curated by going over it, and then you’ve published it. So But where’s Where’s, where’s the line there?

Joe Casabona 43:28
So I think at that point, right, because our so let me ask you are your books all self published?

Alastair McDermott 43:35
I have. I have one book that is hybrid. One book is commercially published, and the rest are self published.

Joe Casabona 43:42
Okay, cool. So So you know, the commercial publishing process, which is, author writes the book, send it to a copy editor, or let’s say prime editor, one, if it’s a technical book, then it goes to the technical editor, then it goes back to prime editor and back to you, then it goes to a second copy editor. The process you just described in my mind removes the author completely ChatGPT wrote it, we’re sending into an editor, we’re sending it to a tech editor, and then we have a book.

Alastair McDermott 44:10
Yeah, I didn’t remove it in my head. I didn’t read because the person writing it was the person who gave those initial ideas, just like in your example, or you, you wrote it in your editor fixed it. Right.

Joe Casabona 44:24
Right. But, but like if, I mean, if I just say ChatGPT, write a chapter, and then I give it a quick once over and send it to my editor.

Alastair McDermott 44:34
So well, if it’s not a quick once over, what if what if you then say, okay, section 1.5 1.7 1.8 should be removed. We don’t need those. You missed out on this topic entirely. Please add that into the list. And then I don’t agree with what you said on section 1.4. So please update it to say this. And by the way, that’s a very realistic sounding example of what I’ve done with that kind of output. Do

Joe Casabona 45:01
I think at that point, you might as well just write it yourself?

Alastair McDermott 45:04
Well, you see, my argument is No, you shouldn’t because then like, that’s, that’s like going to the farmer and saying, Hey, get out of that tractor, and here’s a spade and do your entire field manually. It’s so much quicker not to do that.

Joe Casabona 45:16
I think it’s, I think, I think that’s a different knowledge. This is the hard part of what we’re doing with our real world analogies, right? Knowledge work is very different from manual labor. With knowledge work, it is our knowledge that is the work. And so like, by saying ChatGPT write something, oh, I don’t like these things change that. I still don’t think the human did writing. They just kind of said do do that. Right. It’s the

Alastair McDermott 45:53
difference. So I guess it’s the nuance. It’s my argument is maybe the human didn’t write it, but they might as well have because the output, the quality of the output is going to be the same. And that’s, I think

Joe Casabona 46:05
that I don’t feel like the quality of the output is the same, right? Because you can’t tell ChatGPT Hey, to drive home my point here, I want to tell a story about how I refuse to record a podcast with somebody who wasn’t wearing headphones. Tell that story? Like I would tell it ChatGPT could never do that. Right?

Alastair McDermott 46:29
So unless unless you give it the details of the story, unless you write the story for it. Well, they tell it the story, right? Sure. You write it and this is gonna be super long if we if we don’t agree to disagree. We’re

Joe Casabona 46:42
gonna Yeah, we respectfully agree to disagree here.

Alastair McDermott 46:45
Yeah, I’m gonna bring up a comment. We have comments on LinkedIn. Brian, I use ChatGPT to research the fundamentals of my profession, which is management consulting, in my experience, most managers have never mastered the fundamentals, much like many people, including myself, who never mastered the fundamentals of golf. Yeah, so we researching fundamentals and researching and learning. So learning and ideation are are something that we certainly can agree on, that we shall be using for that. Yeah,

Joe Casabona 47:19
absolutely. Yeah,

Alastair McDermott 47:21
I think I think we’re where we differ is the level and I like the term assist of AI. Because that’s what I think that we should be using, we should be using it to the heavy lifting, like in the terrible analogies and just like a lot of analogies. No, no analogy is perfect. But I think that, you know, some analogies are better than others. And it’s hard to find analogies for this just because of what it is. But, you know, they’re, they’re the way that I see it, we should be using it to assist us and not replace us. And I think that it’s going to be a very long time. Before the ideas that ChatGPT can come up with, or whatever AI any generative AI comes up with on its own from its its learning data set, whatever it’s trained on, are going to match what an expert will come up with. What it will do is help us to reformat and read and edit and tweak and take a blog post. And hey, I wrote a I wrote a blog post on this and I want to fit it into the middle of this book. Can you tell me how to, you know, like, what do I need to add? What do I need to remove? So that this blog post can can then become a chapter of this book? Here’s the rest of the book, something like that. I feel like and I feel well, he wrote the blog, the blog post, he wrote the book, all you’re doing is using it as a very smart editor. I think in that scenario, that that that it’s absolutely fine to say you wrote that. That’s that that’s my perspective on that.

Joe Casabona 48:48
Yeah, I think I think we agree on use it for a very smart editor. Where we disagree is how hands on either the editor is or how hands on we are. Yeah. Yeah, I really think that’s where we differ. And for me, it’s really about if you’re if you’re looking for me, it’s really about the the personal connections and experiences, right? We can, I am very confident that we’ll never be able to tell AI unless there’s a little unless the humane pin is becomes a little brain chip, right? When it’s fun, just scared myself will never be able to say, hey, here’s all of my personal experience. Now tell the story the way I would tell it. I think that it’s still that’s still something that is uniquely human. Yeah.

Alastair McDermott 49:46
And like we shouldn’t want to do that. Right.

Joe Casabona 49:50
Yeah, absolutely. Right. That’s, that goes back to our when do we lose our humanity, right. So

Alastair McDermott 49:58
this has been a It has been a fun one and a bit deep. Joe, we’re recording this. We’re live streaming. We’re recording this for my podcast, The Recognized Authority and for your podcast how I built it. Can you tell listeners and viewers where to find you?

Joe Casabona 50:13
Yeah, so you can find all of my writing over it gets and of course, my podcast is called how I built it. And you can find that wherever podcasts are found. Awesome,

Alastair McDermott 50:28
and you can find me at the recognized Thanks for tuning in. Thanks, Joe.

Joe Casabona 50:33
Thanks so much, everybody. Thanks, Alastair.

Voiceover 50:38
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