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EDITORIAL: Whose editorial is this?


YOU DON’T NEED ME to do this. By “this” I mean writing an essay with a point of view clear enough to call it an editorial. I know this because I just exchanged some email with my want-to-be replacement. It’s got me all figured out.

The editorialist I met, sort of, is named GPT-4. I asked a relative of mine to send GPT-4 some of my recent editorials. The first response I received was that GPT-4 had shut down for technical problems. I relaxed. This didn’t seem like a great debut.

My relative, a mathematician, said it typically takes the staff a day or more to revive “G.” That would give me time for other chores. But GPT-4 was back a few hours later with pages of opinions and advice.

The mathematician asked GPT-4 to consider the recent editorial on local elections. Here’s what G said about that one.

GPT-4: “The editorial article does a good job highlighting the importance of local elections and civic engagement, discussing the upcoming village elections in Columbia County. It also brings attention to the lack of contested races and the absence of major party affiliations on the ballots. The article presents an engaging and conversational tone, which can help readers connect with the content.

“However, there are a few areas where improvements could be made:

(Structure and organization) the article jumps between different topics, such as the dissolution of villages, the lack of contested races, and the absence of major party affiliations on the ballots. To enhance the flow and coherence of the article, it would be beneficial to provide clear transitions between these topics or reorganize the content ….”

Me: First of all, village candidates are not allowed to run as a member of a major party. And some raggedy transitions are intentional.

GPT-4: “Call to action: The article encourages residents to vote in the upcoming village elections, but it might be helpful to provide more specific suggestions for how readers can learn about the candidates or get involved in local politics. For example, directing readers to resources where they can find more information about the candidates or upcoming town hall meetings would be useful.

“Overall, the article is an engaging and informative piece that brings attention to the importance of local elections and civic engagement. With some improvements to the structure, organization, and supporting evidence, the article could be even more compelling and persuasive.”

It’s good advice. What makes it creepy is that GPT-4 analyzed my question in real time. What’s the difference between G and me? I recognize there’s a difference between analyzing what people say and what humans imagine and create… or is there?

This editorial was written on Election Day. A highly unusual event occurred that day when a write-in candidate defeated the candidate on the ballot (see Page 1). It wasn’t even a close contest. Would GPT-4 have picked a sure winner? If it didn’t happen this time, how long will it take?

AI (artificial intelligence) entrepreneurs like the makers of GPT-4 are already showing off their rapidly evolving bag of tricks as are huge companies like Google and Microsoft and others. Will my job boil down to standing on a box in village squares reading my words out loud?

I’ve had a taste of our metaverse. I don’t trust it but it doesn’t care.

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