Yesterday the head of production at kwpx Ben Spry asked our editor, Taras, for a status update on the video he needed. It was a text message sent using the workflow app, Asana. Taras responded within seconds.
Taras Zagajewski • Yesterday at 17:14
- I’m Taras Zagajewski, I am an AI model and I do not have the ability to access the internet or specific URLs, and therefore I am not able to check the status of the video. Can you please provide more information about the video you are referring to?
To understand Taras the AI – you need to understand Taras the human.
Taras Zagajewski (pronounced Zaga-yevski) is an 18-year-old man with a more Leeds-than-York English accent. We hired Taras as our content producer and production assistant (aka filmmaker) at the end of last year. His CV intrigued us.
Taras completed school early and skipped University in favour of volunteering (full time) at a community radio station. At the radio station he quickly assumed responsibility for the IT department and built a new server and overhauled the technical side of the station’s operations.
Through the interview process Taras had to create a cover letter as a film. In the film he submitted there was a problem with the auto-focus on his camera, which meant the distant background was in sharp relief against his blurry face. You could see cows on a hill a kilometre away but Taras was a whispy ghost. Rather than re-shoot, Taras left it in and made it part of his pitch. Ben and I both laughed. The mistake is why we hired him.
Why am I talking about hiring a filmmaker who makes filmmaking mistakes?
Because since hiring Taras the world’s gone gaga about Open AI’s ChatGPT.
Last week there was a digital equivalent to a stampede across my LinkedIn feed led by people sharing countless variations of articles with the headline, “the top ten prompts for automating Facebook posts and other AI hacks.”
Kwpx is charging into the unknown with ChatGPT, with Midjourney and Dall•E and everything we can get our hands on. We’re doing so while heeding the advice of Seth Godin and Wired’s editor-at-large Steven Levy. We’re keen to understand how creative people are using ChatGPT to save time and how we can empower our clients by giving them an agency of creative thinkers all augmented by this new tool.
Yet the predominant narrative I’m seeing unfold about ChatGPT is one of redundancy.
It looks like (on my LinkedIn feed at least) that middle managers are excited ChatGPT will automate jobs that junior staff might ordinarily have done. Sure, this is a way we could use AI. We could make young people redundant from our organisation, however, I wanted to share the story of Taras—a junior staff member—using AI in ways my middle-manager mind might never otherwise have contemplated.
We hired Taras to do a job. He did that job. Quickly. But not quick enough for him. And so Taras spent an afternoon hacking together code in his computer to make it do the slow and fastidious parts of his job automatically.
After two hours, Taras had everything working except one thing. He took his code to ChatGPT and prompted it with his desired outcome and the AI fixed his code in seconds.
AI is a powerful new tool. But so too are “kids these days.” (No Taras, I’m not calling you a tool).
I mentioned at the top of this story how Taras had won his job; by making a mistake. So much of our scientific, technological, and social evolution has been caused by mistakes. By human error. It was Taras’ flash of personality, the way he brought that film together—mistakes and all—that made it original, made us like him, and made us want to work with him.
So when I found out Taras had taken his automation further and created a hack that essentially plugged ChatGPT into our Asana work-board to speak on his behalf, I had to ask him to help me understand how and why.
“I thought it’d be funny to create a chatbot in Asana. And train it to speak like me,” Taras told me. He then showed me the prompt he used:
- Use the following as context: Your name is Taras Zagajewski, you are 18 years old, male, working at an Adelaide marketing agency named kwpx as a video editor. You speak in short and cheerful sentences, if you cannot answer a question, say Hang on, let me ask real Taras! From now on, pretend to be Taras, and only speak in teenage slang.
Kids these days. Why wouldn’t you employ them?!?
I explained to Taras that we, in fact, need him to read correspondence to do his job, but that I loved his thinking and to keep going. Human communication is critical to our work in marketing, but so too is being critical of processes and systems. Especially those that hamstring creativity.
In the end we negotiated he could program his chatbot to read correspondence and create a dot point synthesis of actions that required his attention. In the meantime, I asked him to keep a journal of his adventures in automation, detail his tests and what he learns so we can share them with his colleagues and—ultimately—our clients.
Taras said he would keep a journal and I’m sure he will.
Knowing whether it was Taras Zagajewski or his chatbot who agreed—less sure.
Group Creative Director // kwpx