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The Rise of the Machine: what Sci-Fi can teach us about AI

By Lorraine Ball - More Than a Few Words


I’m a sci-fi geek. As a kid, I discovered Isaac Asimov’s stories built around his three laws of robotics, creating a world where robots existed to serve human beings. I also read dystopian sci-fi describing the rise of evil machines that would take over the world.

As I evaluate the emergence of Chat GPT and other artificial intelligence (AI) tools in content creation, advertising, and search, I’m trying to decide if we’re in the era of Isaac Asimov’s good robots or the dystopian terminator. Regardless of where you believe we’ll ultimately end up, it’s clear, AI will dramatically change digital marketing.



Initially I was skeptical of using AI as a content creation tool. Long before AI became popular, I spent years telling my clients they needed to create content, only they could write. While many small business owners were repurposing content created by others, we focused on telling stories about clients and projects, new tools and events around the office. The goal of this unique content was to help prospective customers get to know us and understand why they should buy from us and not one of our competitors.

Then along comes AI. It’s fast, efficient, affordable, and adequate. But to me the content feels a little flat, lacking in creativity, like a paper written by a C+ student. It would get a passing grade, but it wouldn’t win any awards.

The purpose of the content is to convince someone to do business with you, not just to pass an assignment. So how can you take advantage of AI without giving up quality?

The answer lies in many of my favorite science fiction stories. Humans ultimately defeat machines because of our ability to use tools and still think outside the box. Unlike robots locked into a narrow framework, we don’t have to follow the rules. We can use the rules, or in this case the content created by AI as a starting point, not a final product.

The trick is to use Chat GPT to start your projects. Keep in mind this isn’t a sentient being. No matter how human it sounds, it’s just a machine capable of collecting information and organizing it.


Brainstorm, but add your perspective

Use Chat GPT to generate topics, headlines, and to suggest additional elements for an outline, or even social media hashtags. Remember your competitors are asking the same questions and the algorithm is pulling the same information for them so, if you don’t want to sound like everyone else, you need to supplement with your own content.

When using AI for research, double-check the facts as the information is sourced from the internet and not always accurate. There have been some amusing stories of robots getting a bit indignant when told they’re wrong, but your reputation is on the line, so double check the facts.


Give clear instructions

You’re working with a machine, so ask specific questions and clearly define your audience in your request. For example: ask for a list of topics for first-time home buyers in a particular city. Or ask for subject line suggestions for an article about exercises you can do in a hotel room.


Don’t settle for the first draft

Sometimes the responses may not fully capture the intended meaning so refine the content by asking the robot more specific and probing questions. Imagine the robot is a high school student and you’re grading their paper. Think about the guidance you give to the student to enhance their content. Treat the robot like a student.

Pay close attention to grammar and consistency. I have noticed since it writes a paragraph at a time, it frequently jumps from first to second person, or strays further and further from the original question in longer content.


Help it discover your voice

If you’ve been writing for a while, you have a style. There are certain phrases, style elements like bullet points, numbers, or outlines that you use throughout your content. You can give examples of your writing to Chat GPT and ask it to create something in your voice and style. I’ve been impressed with how well it’s able to clone my voice. I still must fine tune the content, but the robot gets me over the initial challenge of the blank page.


Experiment with Chat GPT

I don’t think robots will be replacing humans anytime soon. But I do think smart humans will be relying on artificial intelligence to help them do more high-quality work in less time.


After spending too many years in Corporate America, I said goodbye to the bureaucracy, glass ceilings and bad coffee to follow my passion to help small business owners succeed.

Today, as a successful entrepreneur, author, professional speaker, and host of a weekly marketing podcast, More than a Few Words, I bring creative ideas, practical tips, and decades of real-world experience to every conversation.

As founder of the Digital Toolbox I help business owners use internet marketing to grow. Download my most recent ebook, a compilation of business wisdom, including a chapter from Danielle Hughes!

And in my spare time, I love to travel, and take photos. You can see my photos at



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