OpenAI's viral text generator ChatGPT is a real jack of all trades.
The AI-powered tool can write convincing college essays, pass business exams, and even apply for jobs on your behalf.
And, as it turns out, it could also easily take over the role of a CEO who is tasked with delivering an unfortunate message.
Dev ops expert Matt Stratton asked the tool to "compose a message announcing a seven percent reduction in headcount while also promoting executives to new titles and also include a quote from Martin Luther King."
And man, did it deliver:
Oh my fucking god pic.twitter.com/SVfbO6zjJo
— matty stratton, fashon mogul (@mattstratton) January 24, 2023
The response is every bit as lifeless and impersonal as you'd expect from a human CEO — which only makes sense as Stratton's request is a direct reference to the CEO of San Francisco-based cloud computing company PagerDuty, which announced the firing of seven percent of its workforce.
The announcement email by CEO Jennifer Tejada, which has since gone viral on Twitter, kicked off with the out-of-touch intro "Hi Dutonians" and made very little effort to console the affected workers.
Writer and engineer Gegely Orosz called it "the most tone-deaf layoff email I read so far."
"The email is very long, and feels like it was written by an AI that took all the phrases that people usually say, and put it [in] one long email," he added.
"Shoutout to PagerDuty for the most horrific layoff email I've ever seen," developer advocate Kat Cosgrove tweeted. "It's got everything: framing it as a good thing, promoting people already in VP positions, thanking the board, and quoting MLK Jr."
If it weren't for the fact that the screenshot itself was taken from a ChatGPT chat window, in fact, the letter generated in response to Stratton's prompt could've easily been mistaken for the real thing.
"The decision was not made lightly, but it is necessary in order to ensure the long-term success of our organization," ChatGPT wrote.
Tejada used very similar and equally meaningless language, writing that "we are further refining our operating model as we work to increase our capacity while improving our cost structure, focusing our efforts, and improving our return on investments."
The cherry on top? Tejada used the same exact MLK quote as ChatGPT — while modifying the gendered phrase "ultimate measure of a man" to read as "the ultimate measure of a [leader]."
It all makes us wonder: did the tech CEO use ChatGPT to come up with her lazy layoffs announcement letter in the first place? Did ChatGPT just prove its brilliance, or did Tejada and other CEOs like her just set the bar that low?
Even AI generators like ChatGPT have their limits, however.
After Stratton attempted to get the AI to come up with a letter including a quote from Italian fascist leader Benito Mussolini, ChatGPT suddenly grew a conscience.
"I'm sorry, but I cannot fulfill that request," ChatGPT responded, adding that Stratton's request may have led to "inappropriate, but also offensive" language due to Mussolini's "racist and discriminatory ideologies."
The first letter featuring an MLK quote, however — which likely mashes up plenty of preceding letters just like it in the bot's training data — couldn't be more pertinent right now.
2023 has already been mired in mass layoffs, with major US tech and media companies firing workers in the tens of thousands.
Other CEOs didn't fare much better in coming up with their announcement letters.
ChatGPT's response to Stratton's query is especially ironic, given the tech industry's growing investments in the AI space.
"I am confident about the huge opportunity in front of us thanks to the strength of our mission, the value of our products and services, and our early investments in AI," Google and Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai wrote in a largely boilerplate message announcing a workforce reduction of around 12,000 roles.
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella noted in his recent mass layoffs announcement that "while we are eliminating roles in some areas, we will continue to hire in key strategic areas," adding that "we know this is a challenging time for each person impacted" — an arguably meaningless sentiment that does little to soften the blow.
All told, the company let go of roughly 10,000 workers — and announced a multibillion-dollar investment in ChatGPT maker OpenAI days later.
Meanwhile, executive pay is still steadily increasing.
In short, ChatGPT's lethargic and mechanical response — which comes eerily close to the real thing — highlights just how meaningless company-wide statements put together by their CEOs and communications departments really are: a cushy job that may as well be taken care of by a regurgitating AI.
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