AI doesn’t like Shakespeare

by Mike McQuillan

AI doesn’t like Shakespeare

By Mike McQuillan

“Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow, creeps in this petty pace from day …”

Okay, that’s far enough. The artificial intelligence platform only needed five words to flag Shakespeare for his redundancy. The same goes for “Out, out brief candle!” Please consider revising. Furthermore, the non-inclusion filter has been triggered. MacBeth refers to life as “a tale told by an idiot,” using ableist language that some idiots might find offensive. The latest AI platform that’s taking over the world of speech coaching offers the following rewrite:

“Day after day, time plods on relentlessly until the last moment of recorded history. The footsteps of our past guide foolish choices that will inevitably lead to our own demise. Life is a fleeting shadow, a mere actor on a stage destined to be forgotten. The story of our existence is akin to that of a loud, chaotic piece of nonsense.”

Chaotic nonsense indeed

As a disclaimer, this article features more first person vertical pronouns than normal. I fear that the predictions of Zager and Evans will come true long before the year 2525. Protecting the human element is very personal to me, even if it means I have to hurt people’s feelings with my comments about technology.

As an original pilot of the virtual speech coach (which shall remain nameless in this article) that has now infiltrated Toastmasters International, I brought these flaws to the attention of the platform’s creator. He defended the non-inclusive feature by appealing to the authority of anonymous “experts at major universities.”

I left academia to escape the ivory tower elitists who believe in the adage, “I said it, therefore it is true.” Now I have moved into the world of a solopreneur, only to find the same high society low-minded people playing word police to the rest of the world.

It is high time that experts in the human experience expose artificial intelligence for the fraud that it is. As self-anointed thought leaders, influencers, and early adopters are sprinting 10 feet ahead of the pack to tell you all about the wonders of Chat GPT, speech coaches are doing the same thing with AI. John Connor is not here to travel through time and lead the fight against the rise of the machines. We have to do it ourselves.

Here we go again …

In another blog post, you can see my take on technology in the fitness industry. Too many trainers are relying on the digital apps and the high-tech cardio equipment while paying no attention to how the body moves. Semi-competent fitness trainers don’t know that the supreme technology in the gym is the human body. In the world of public speaking, techno-dependency is far worse than tunnel vision fitness apps. It strips words of their humanity. A speech coaching session with AI is the equivalent to a personal training session on a treadmill. The technology matters more than the results.

A speech coaching session with AI is the equivalent to a personal training session on a treadmill. The technology matters more than the results.

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What is the goal?

What are you trying to accomplish when you speak? Are you giving a weekly sales report to the regional manager? Maybe it’s a presentation for a class project. If the only goal is to complete an obligation and satisfy an ungrateful boss or 100-level college professor, then by all means give them the sterile, thankless presentation they deserve. However (comma) if you care about your audience and want them to feel your message and experience your speech, the AI will never communicate emotion.

The platform in question will count your ums and ahs, measure your smile time (perfect if you’re practicing a eulogy), and use the woke filter to call out any non-inclusive language. My favorite. (Good news, you can still say whatever you want about the Irish. Tech-weasel software cyborgs apply a shameless double-standard, but the good news is we’re not a bunch of sniffling whining green-painted snowflakes. Pass the Lucky Charms and let the St. Paddy’s patronizing continue).

The latest feature, as indicated in the example above, is to rewrite your words to make them more concise. The great invisible oracle had the nerve to say that its Macbeth revision was more poetic than the original! The software will revise your conversational tone into a structured academic format. It will strip any meaning out of your words in the name of efficiency. It cannot convey or recognize emotion. It will sever your connection with your audience. 

March on the resistance!

Why do I put up a resistance toward AI speech coaching? Normally I would live and let live, and allow people their right to waste time and money on mind-numbing technology. As long as smart toilets are a reality (if they were smart, they wouldn’t be toilets) I can’t expect to win every battle in the tech war and save people from themselves.

I write this to protect you. You are reading this because you want to develop as a public speaker. You deserve better, and your audience deserves better. As a solopreneur who has been cheated before, believe me when I say the first red flag is anybody who believes that the trending technology is greater than the human mind.

Turn up your digital nose

A speaking coach who uses the platform will never get past the data. They won’t listen to you directly. You can bare your soul to a speaking coach, only to have the coach say, “Great! Record it on the AI platform so I can give you feedback.” When a tech-savvy speaking coach reviews your material, you will never get feedback on what matters most. The entire coaching relationship will focus on metrics like redundancy and number of filler phrases. “Let’s make a plan right now, to reduce your ums and ahs by 25 percent in two weeks.” It’s a meaningless goal, expressed with the highest sincerity.

As I write this, I can already picture colleagues and detractors alike dismissing me with, “Well that’s just your opinion,” and “I’m sorry you feel that way.” Those token phrases are as predictable as the programmed responses of AI. With such unoriginal comebacks, is it no wonder that they prefer to have a computer do their thinking for them?

The speaking industry is a demolition derby of self-congratulations. People marvel over every word that comes out of their own mouths, take the stage to talk about themselves, then turn around to extol their ability to help you speak. Then they hit you an elevator pitch written by artificial intelligence. Do you expect that same homogenized, cookie-cutter approach to communication help you reach the world with your message? Surely there has to be a better way. Funny you should say that. And don’t call me Shirley.

The speaking industry is a demolition derby of self-congratulations. People marvel over every word that comes out of their own mouths, take the stage to talk about themselves, then turn around to extol their ability to help you speak. 

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Enter the FIT Presenter

A certified World Class Speaking Coach will look at your story and find the conflict. We escalate it, then add the inner turmoil that draws your audience into the story. We add dialogue to make the story three-dimensional. Then we check in with the audience so they reflect on the meaning behind the story.

The audience becomes the protagonist of your story. Every minute produces another level of suspense. We give the audience a takeaway message so they become your ambassador. Can AI do that? Type it into ChatGPT and find out. Most likely you’ll get a long-winded programmed response, full of sound and fury signifying nothing.

Mike McQuillan

About the author

Mike McQuillan, aka the Fit Presenter, coaches fitness industry professionals to give top-quality presentations, seminars, and courses. His day job is an English teacher in Lima, Peru.

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