Marie Curie loved a bit of science PR
"The scientific method is a powerful tool for understanding the world around us. Let us help you share your discoveries with the world," Marie Curie.
I don’t think there could be a more concise and beautiful expression of the importance of PR to scientific companies than this quote from the Polish/French Nobel Prize winner, Marie Curie, explains Richard Stone, managing director of scientific, technical and technology PR agency Stone Junction.
Well, there could be no more concise and beautiful expression of the importance of PR to scientific companies, if Marie Curie had actually said this. But she didn’t. She didn’t even say anything like it.
It was created by Bard, Google’s generative AI programme, which is being used by writers across the globe, including yours truly on occasion, to produce content. The prompt I wrote for Bard was simply, “Give me ten quotes from literature that could be used in a sales letter for a STEM PR company”.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not arguing that nobody should ever use AI to generate content. Far from it; I’m really enthusiastic about the prospect.
However, I do think it’s a great illustration of the current difference between human creativity and AI creativity. At present, generative AI sees no problem in creating a quote, fact, or statistic to support its argument, which means a human writer still needs to edit the content.
For instance, there’s an excellent piece on The Guardian website, which is around two years old, called, “A robot wrote this entire article. Are you scared yet, human?”. It includes a summary at the end revealing that, while an AI did write the article, a journalist fed it the attention grabber, or hook, at the start, which is actually the only really good bit of the piece.
Furthermore, they used five different iterations of the content GPT-3 produced to piece together one publishable version. So, for non-technical content, AI is clearly quite useful.
The trouble is the content an AI can produce today is the same kind of content that a human can also create quickly and easily. Where it comes into its own is as a tool for a writer, to make the process easier.
Deakin University’s Professor Phillip Dawson, who specialises in digital assessment security, argues that AI is just a new form of a technique called cognitive offloading.
“Cognitive offloading,” he explains, is “when you use a tool to reduce the mental burden of a task. It can be as simple as writing something down, so you don’t have to try to remember it for later. There have long been moral panics around tools for cognitive offloading, from Socrates complaining about people using writing to pretend they knew something, to the first emergence of pocket calculators.”
Personally, I’m comfortable with using AI for this purpose and I’m going to continue to ask it for inspiration when I need it. Furthermore, I’m going to keep on using it to carefully repurpose content, but, for now, I won’t be relying on it to teach me about Marie Curie.