The world is undergoing a digital transformation and it is revolutionizing the media industry. In this age of information, producing high-quality content quickly is essential, and the pressure is on for media organizations to keep up with the pace of change.
One technology that is making waves in the industry is OpenAI's ChatGPT (opens in new tab). Launched in November 2022, it has already amassed over 100 million users within just two months. Its advanced natural language processing (NLP) capabilities have made it a go-to technology for content creation, virtual assistants, and audience engagement. With Microsoft and Google investing billions in this technology, conversational AI is poised to become a game-changer for the future of the media industry.
ChatGPT is a prime example of a technology that follows the McLuhan tetrad law (opens in new tab). This law is a framework for analyzing the impacts of technology on society. The tetrad law comprises four questions: What does the technology enhance? What does it make obsolete? What does it retrieve that was previously obsolesced? And what does it reverse or flip into when pushed to its limits?
The first question is, what does ChatGPT enhance? ChatGPT is a powerful and efficient tool that can significantly enhance content creation for media organizations. Its advanced NLP technology allows it to analyze vast amounts of data and generate insights, trends and patterns that can be used to create engaging and high-quality content. ChatGPT can be informative in increasing the diversity of content by offering new perspectives and angles that may not have been considered. ChatGPT can speed up content creation by automating routine tasks like summarizing news articles and creating headlines, freeing up time for editors to focus on more important and complex tasks. These advantages can lead to increased productivity and efficiency, ultimately resulting in more engaging and relevant content for media organizations’ audiences, saving valuable time and resources.
The second question is, what does ChatGPT make obsolete? ChatGPT has the potential to reduce the need for humans to perform translations and transcriptions from scratch by offering near real-time and personalized capabilities. By supporting 95 languages and leveraging signal-processing technology, ChatGPT enables faster and more efficient repurposing of content for global audiences. However, it's important to recognize that ChatGPT’s translations may not always accurately convey the intended meaning, particularly with complex or context-dependent texts. Therefore, ChatGPT is not a complete replacement for human translators and transcribers since they can offer unique insights and cultural nuances that are difficult to capture.
The third question is, what does ChatGPT retrieve that was previously obsolesced? Through the use of natural language processing and context recognition, ChatGPT can retrieve and enhance discursive communication that traditional one-way communication has diminished. Its ability to simulate natural conversation encourages open-ended dialogue and prompts further discussion, fostering greater understanding and collaboration between “individuals.” Its power as a virtual assistant has the potential to create a positive impact on many aspects of society. Its ability to facilitate more effective and meaningful conversations is unparalleled, and it brings back the value of conversational communication.
The fourth question is, what does ChatGPT reverse or flip into when pushed to its limits? ChatGPT’s potential reversal when pushed too far is the production of homogeneous and unoriginal content. The lack of diversity and creativity in the content could result in homogeneous thinking and behavior in society, limiting cultural diversity. Media organizations that rely too heavily on ChatGPT to produce content are at risk of creating unengaging and monotonous content.
To prevent the potential danger of homogeneity, media organizations must find a way to balance ChatGPT’s efficiency with human creativity and expertise. Human writers can help enhance the content produced by ChatGPT, providing a nuanced understanding of culture and creativity that AI language models currently lack. This approach requires media organizations to acknowledge the limitations of AI language models and recognize the importance of human expertise in producing high-quality content.
The advantages of ChatGPT in the media industry are clear. With its ability to generate human-like text, media companies can create high-quality, diversified and interactive content quickly and efficiently. As the digital transformation continues, conversational AI, such as ChatGPT, can provide a range of benefits for media companies. We must adapt to stay relevant and competitive in a rapidly changing media landscape. ■
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Ling Ling Sun is chief technology officer at Nebraska Public Media.