Opinion: Is no career safe anymore?

Editor’s note: Peter Bergen is a national security analyst for CNN, vice president of New America and professor of practice at Arizona State University. Bergen is the author of The Price of Chaos: The Trump Administration and the World. The views expressed in this review are his own. See more opinions on CNN.


It’s clear that artificial intelligence (AI) could one day replace many of the humans who work in areas such as customer service, insurance underwriting, and manufacturing. However, I have always been complacent about my career as a writer. After all, what AI tool could replace the work of the human brain?

Peter Bergen

For the past few days, I’ve been hearing about ChatGPT, an AI chatbot. Users of the tool claim to be able to write coherent articles and columns in seconds. So I signed up to try it out, and asked it to perform a task that I’ve so far thought required at least a certain skill level. I asked ChatGPT to “write a column in the style of Peter Bergen.”

Within two seconds, the tool spit out this op-ed:

The country is safer, but the war on terror is far from over.

As President Joe Biden marks his 100th day in office, he can point to some important accomplishments on national security. The United States has made huge strides towards ending its two longest wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and the country is safer than it was four years ago when Donald Trump took office.

But the war on terror is far from over. Al Qaeda remains a threat to the United States and its allies, while ISIS continues to pose a threat to the Middle East, Africa, and South Asia.

The Biden administration has taken some steps to counter those threats, including authorizing the first military strikes against Al Qaeda and ISIS targets in Syria and Yemen, and deploying special operations forces to Syria to help fight ISIS.

But more needs to be done to protect the United States and its allies from the threat of terrorism. A Biden administration should expand efforts to combat violent extremism, not just in the Middle East, but in the United States as well.

The United States should also strengthen its partnerships with regional states such as Jordan and Egypt, which are critical to regional stability and counterterrorism efforts. In the long run, working with these countries to enhance their ability to respond to terrorist threats will pay dividends.

Finally, a Biden administration should make a concerted effort to reengage with Iran, the most powerful country in the region. This helps reduce the risk of future conflict, while also opening the door to greater cooperation against terrorism and other transnational threats.

The war on terrorism is far from over, but the Biden administration is taking the right steps to protect the United States and its allies from the threat of terrorism. With the right strategy and the right partners, the United States can continue to make progress in combating this global scourge.

The op-ed makes a clear overarching thesis that the “war on terror” is not over, backs it up with multiple sub-arguments, and makes specific policy recommendations for a Biden administration to take action, such as re-engagement with Iran .

But the op-ed made a number of factual errors, including outdated references to the timing of the Biden administration, which I attribute to the fact that, according to OpenAI, the company behind ChatGPT, its “default model’s training data will not be available until 2021.” years, so they may not be aware of current events.”

The ChatGPT-generated op-ed also suggested that the Biden administration was the first to authorize U.S. policies to strike at Al Qaeda in Yemen and ISIS in Syria, policies that had actually begun in previous administrations, and that a single hit on Al Qaeda was In Yemen under the Biden administration, there have been reports of “suspected” US attacks rather than confirmed attacks.

The column also asserts that the Iraq War is one of the two longest contested wars in the United States since the Vietnam War lasted for more than 10 years, and the Iraq War lasted from 2003 to 2012 when all U.S. troops were withdrawn. (U.S. troops did return to Iraq to fight ISIS in 2014, but thousands remained there.)

I also serve as a college professor at Arizona State University, and AI tools like ChatGPT also raise some interesting questions about the role of student essays, which form a core part of American college education.

I asked the tool a simple historical question: “What was the role of women in the French Revolution?” and the next second it replied:

Women played a vital role in the French Revolution, both in the context of political upheaval and in the social changes it brought about.

Women took an active part in the storming of the Bastille and the overthrow of the monarchy. Women also participated in the political debates of the day, forming political clubs and writing pamphlets advocating for their rights. They also took part in revolutionary festivals and parades, as well as the violence of the Reign of Terror.

The revolution also saw the emergence of a new type of woman, the “citizen,” who was educated and politically active. Eventually, the revolution brought about some changes in women’s status, such as the right to divorce and own property, but these gains were short-lived.

While this short essay is not quite on par with the work of French Revolution historians Richard Cobb or Simon Schama, and it exaggerates the role of women in the violence of the Reign of Terror, it does suggest that future university students will likely submit papers entirely composed of Long and complex papers generated by AI. So what does it mean to be educated at a liberal arts college? Why bother?

So I go into 2023 with a clear conscience. My career as a CNN columnist began more than a decade ago, but it may not be quite over yet, as AI-generated op-eds make factual mistakes — just like humans, though those mistakes are often made during the fact-checking process was discovered.

My writing career, however, could still take the path of a grocery checkout job eliminated by automation. AI tools will get smarter, and over time it will become increasingly difficult to distinguish an AI-authored column from a “real” human one, just as it will become increasingly difficult for an AI-generated college essay to compare Actual student-written articles are distinguished as well.

This creates a dystopian future as a writer and a professor. (I promise this sentiment is not generated by artificial intelligence.)


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