Opinion: The human advantage in the age of AI

Ged Byrne from Toastmasters International on whether AI can really write like a human, how to tell the difference and how to stand out…

For many, deepfakes are a bit of fun. Search YouTube and you’ll find scenes of Batman interacting with Wonder Woman where Ben Affleck and Gal Gadot have been replaced by Adam West and Lynda Carter. Perhaps you’ve giggled at the fake photos of Donald Trump in an orange prison jumpsuit. However, it was no joke for the Hong Kong branch of a multinational company when an employee was tricked into transferring more than $25m following video calls that turned out to be deepfakes.  

Image of robot stood in front of complex equation

Image by Mike MacKenzie at

Deepfakes are generated using machine learning employed in artificial intelligence technology; they can be audio, video or individual images.

Spotting a deepfake

There’s no guaranteed way to spot a good deepfake but most scams are not top quality. They’re usually quite cheaply done, unless you are a high value individual and it’s worth investing significantly in a targeted scam.

When trying to spot a deep fake, there are aspects of the human body that AI struggles with more than others: eyes; hair; teeth; facial expressions, especially emotion; body posture and movement. Keep a close eye on these, especially when the head is moved. Does the hair move naturally?  Do the eyes, nose and mouth move in sync or are they slightly off?

If you are suspicious during a video call, try to get a reaction. Do they respond appropriately with laughter, smiling and eye tracking? Because of these tells, a deepfake will avoid movement. If the speaker is unnaturally still, that is another sign that you are looking at a deep fake.

You versus AI

While most of us are unlikely to be targeted by Mission Impossible level deepfake scam artists, whether we know it or not, AI and its mimicry of humans is creeping into our lives more and more.

ChatGPT was launched in November 2022 with the capability to rapidly generate text on any topic. Suddenly, articles could be written at the push of a button. The result is many content creators generating large amounts of AI created content, making it harder to compete for an audience’s attention. How can humans stand out with so much computer-generated text sloshing about? The answer is to lean into being human.

The good news is that there is a well-established model to help us do this: the SUCCESS model. To stand out as human you need to create: Simple Unexpected Concrete Credible Emotional Stories.

Let’s play the imitation game. 

Apply the SUCCESS Model and see if you can tell which of the following has the spark of humanity and which is merely human adjacent.

Version 1

‘Each year, over 90 tonnes of used disposable nappies contribute significantly to environmental waste. BlueStone Resort has partnered with a local social enterprise to address this issue, taking a bold step towards a greener future. The innovative initiative involves collecting used nappies, thoroughly cleaning them, and separating out the fibres for processing into sustainable asphalt.

BlueStone Resort recognises the urgent need for sustainable practices within the hospitality industry and aims to set a precedent for other establishments. The resort’s commitment to environmental responsibility aligns with its dedication to preserving the natural beauty of the surrounding Welsh landscape.’

Version 2

‘No, I haven’t suddenly had a baby! This is actually a really cool eco-initiative at BlueStone in Wales. Over 90 tonnes of used disposable nappies are thrown away each year at the resort. But rather than go into landfill a local social enterprise cleans them and separates the fibres which are then processed and used to create the asphalt for roads at the resort. Genius! Why can’t this happen to every disposable nappy in the UK?’

Let’s go through our checklist and see how these two measure up, beginning with Simple, Concrete and Credible.  Both are concrete and credible but the first post is nearly twice the length without adding anything useful.  It feels corporate rather than the voice of an individual.  Compare the phrases like ‘taking a bold step towards a greener future’ and ‘the innovative initiative’ with the simple exclamation ‘Genius!’  It feels uniquely human, and those six letters imply so much more than a dozen words.

Next let us consider Surprising and Emotional.  The second version starts with reference to an accompanying picture that will have surprised any reader who knows the poster. They do not have a baby, so why do they have nappies? It concludes with an emotional plea: why can’t this happen to every disposable nappy? Can you find anything surprising or emotional in the first version? Neither can I.

There is an opportunity here to make the article more human by introducing story. Who were the people behind this initiative? What was their motivation? How were they inspired? What challenges did they meet?  There is a story to be told, we want to hear it.

If you are a small business communicating with your established and prospective customers, you have something very powerful. A shared story that is either in progress or about to begin. You are providing something that they need, joining together in a mutually beneficial relationship. Human relationships are rich and complex, spinning a myriad of narratives. 

Now, take a look at what you are writing. Is it simple, credible and real? How can you weave those stories into your text? How can you surprise your readers and make them feel emotion? By applying the SUCCESS model, you will show your readers and potential clients that you are human and connect with them in a way that no machine ever could.

About the author

Ged Byrne is a member of Toastmasters International, a not-for-profit organisation that has provided communication and leadership skills since 1924 through a worldwide network of clubs. There are more than 400 clubs and 10,000 members in the UK and Ireland. Members follow a structured educational programme to gain skills and confidence in public and impromptu speaking, chairing meetings and time management.

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