When AI Does Our Writing, Who Will Do Our Thinking?
The hype exposes how bad we are at this foundational skill — and it’ll only get worse
Three stories, one lesson.
Yesterday, a friend forwarded me a sample ad for a car seat, written by ChatGPT:
“As a young parent, keeping your child safe and secure is your top priority. That’s why you need a car seat designed by professionals who understand the importance of safety and comfort. Our car seats are engineered with the latest safety features and materials to provide the ultimate protection for your little one. From side-impact protection to easy installation, you can trust that your child is in good hands with our car seats. Don’t compromise on your child’s safety — choose a car seat designed by professionals. Order yours today!”
The creator’s comment? “Copywriters are screwed.”
Yesterday, I also overheard a conversation at work. “I had ChatGPT write like 80% of this thing for work, and when I read it out at the meeting, everyone was impressed. When I told them it was written by AI, they suddenly said: ‘Oh yeah, you can kinda tell.’ Then, they started criticizing bits of the text — but they were the bits I had written!”
Yesterday, I remembered a great article on Wait But Why: The Cook and the Chef. In the piece, Tim Urban tries to explain Elon Musk’s genius. “Yeah, Musk is smart and insanely ambitious,” Urban concludes, “but that’s not why he’s beating everybody. What makes Musk so rad is that he’s a software outlier. A chef in a world of cooks.”
Urban argues that, where most people try to follow other people’s recipes in all areas of life, Musk makes up his own. In the short term, that often leads to failure. But in the long run, it leads to what we think is genius when, actually, Musk simply applies logic and creativity from scratch.
Therefore, Urban argues, “the real story here isn’t Musk. It’s us.” Why is someone like Elon so rare? Why aren’t we all using our imagination and reason more deliberately? “The curious thing about the car industry isn’t why Tesla is focusing so hard on electric cars, and the curious thing about the aerospace industry isn’t why SpaceX is trying so hard to make rockets reusable —…