Why ChatGPT won’t be writing my articles anytime soon

By Adrienne Jacobson, Chairperson, Cape SAJBD

The violin player that has been serenading my relationship with ChatGPT has packed up in despair and gone home in an existential sulk. 

Begging ChatGPT to write an article of 600 words for the Cape Jewish Chronicle on the work of the Board of Deputies and current issues in the Cape Town Jewish community has turned up nothing but bland overtures that just cannot strike the right chord, and literally scores of repetitive and banal drivel. No matter how many times I rephrase the question, it cannot seem to write something constructive and decisive. 

Bad music metaphors aside, it would appear that, despite the much lauded Messianic qualities of ChatGPT, it is not the answer to writing this month’s View from The Chair. It simply does not understand the unique nuances and ruach of our vibrant Cape Town Jewish Community, nor the complexity and depth of the issues, and political relationships that we are currently navigating. 

In fact, one could also argue that social media and ChatGPT only serve to intensify the information dump that keeps us in that repetitive mindless algorithm loop, showing us only more of what we click on in greater varieties of more of the same. 

Never is this more evident than the increasing volumes of media content and social media, using classic antisemitic tropes woven into anti-Zionist narrative, barely disguised antisemitism, racism and prejudice – much of which has come across our desk at the Cape SAJBD in the past few months. Many will have watched the television interview on Newsroom Afrika, where the Al Jamah spokesperson, Shameemah Dollie Salie, unleashed a wave of hate and intolerance at the LGBTQIA community. Thankfully, she has received major criticism for her words, even being compared to former Apartheid leaders. 

Using media to drive a political agenda is nothing new but this has evolved into a toxic triangle between information, knowledge and opinion. This is unacceptable and intolerable. How have we South Africans become so mind-numbingly complacent and disengaged that we are accepting these narratives?

The question we grapple with around the Board table is how, when and on which media platform do we respond, and how best do we tell our story, especially where the platform is hostile. In our Associate Relations subcommittee, we are currently focusing on a media strategy of our own, and embarking on an in-depth analysis of our current media environment, stakeholders and thought leadership. The challenge facing us is how to find media platforms of engagement and communication that will cut through this mindless media loop. How can we engage in critical thought and dialogue in a platform where there is no context or complexity? Sometimes it is better to say nothing and let the flames of a particular issue burn out. Especially on social media when you have the same five people complaining – if the topic gains no traction (very few likes, shares or engagement), then rather let it fizzle out as opposed to giving it any oxygen. 

AI really should serve as a reminder to step out of our comfort zone as we scroll through mind-numbing social media and challenge ourselves to think deeper and respond more originally. May we never lose our divine spark of humanity because it is that light that will ultimately banish hate and prejudice. 

Cape SA Jewish Board of Deputies website: www.capesajbd.org, Instagram, and Facebook page.

• Published in the August 2023 issue – Click here to start reading.

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