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unemployedprofessors44 karma

Just one? Hm... Once a client had me write text messages to their friends and family. I don't mean the tough stuff like "Dear mom, this is why I'm going NC..." I mean, like, birthday messages. With lots of obnoxious back and forth about specific emoji and the relative nuance of "Happy birthday buddy!" While I admired that particular client's apparent fascination with the specificity of language, it was definitely strange.

unemployedprofessors36 karma

I love this question.

I think of ChatGPT like a Faberge egg (or maybe at least like the original Mechanical Turk). It looks very fancy and valuable, but it's hollow. There is no internal reasoning within it. It is auto-correct on steroids and the things people say about it are frightening. It's not sitting there making algorithmic decisions based on questions like "What is the best way to write a five-paragraph essay on this topic?" or "As a large language model, what is my opinion?" or "What are the best resources to use to make this argument?" ChatGPT is just parsing through its memory of the corpus to which it's been exposed and making calculations based on what words or patterns it's seen previously.

ChatGPT can generate text and we can parse that text and think "Yes, these are definitely words, sentences, and paragraphs." It glitters with banal transitional phrases and its absolute adherence to rubric-driven writing. But if you tap on that facade of error-free, style-free sentences, it falls apart. It's all just filler, as I'm sure you know.

The problematic Venn Diagram is the intersection of expectations for algorithmic writing, under paid / apathetic / burned out educators or readers who just skim and look for writing with features that tick off boxes, and people who either cannot or who choose not to acknowledge the value of critical thinking and writing. That's where the real "magic" of ChatGPT lies: People who don't know good writing when they see it and perceive anything with written language as a horrible burden, who are producing content for an audience that is mostly only able or willing to identify superficial stylistic deficits, and an underlying structure (school, algorithm, whatever) that has created this, I don't know, golden calf of what "good" writing is: Something that can be crammed into five-interval rubrics and graded by AI and that keeps lowering the common denominator down to another level of hell.

So if ChatGPT is a Faberge egg, maybe we're the golden goose (or geese), because we write something that's more than just not incorrect. It isn't algorithmic because writing was never really supposed to be, because writing is supposed to be for humans: Messy, holistic, heuristic humans, not robots that are only capable of skimming for algorithms.

unemployedprofessors30 karma

🥇 Take my poor unemployed man's fake gold

unemployedprofessors27 karma

Most clients find us through Google or social media and come to our site. As a company, we take almost any project: Users can post their projects for free, so it's up to the market, as it were, to see if writers want to do it. But we do have some moderation in place, so some projects get flagged and taken down if they seem odd or "off."

As an individual writer, there are a few things I personally wouldn't do...there are some types of projects I really hate. I just absolutely cannot stand HR papers, and I have a few other boundaries and rules in place.

And yes, I agree with you about education. "Education" is just capitalist credentialism and training now. There's no opportunity to really learn or grow or explore or be curious. It has become a depressing charade for everyone, and that's why we exist, basically.

unemployedprofessors26 karma

Ah... this is a great question.

As an individual (not speaking on behalf of the company here), I do miss some things about being a professor:

  • Those rare moments when my classes got really interested in something and we had a fascinating, invigorating discussion. The times when I learned from my students were best of all.
  • I'm an extrovert, so I kind of miss just having a workplace with IRL interactions. There are also some specific colleagues I really miss.
  • Maybe this sounds cheesy, but the optimism and energy of The Youth™. There is something infectious (nope, not COVID) about being around a lot of people who still have dreams and ambition and are just getting started ( that includes the many wonderful non-trad students who were in school at some other point in their lives) and generally think they have the world all figured out .
  • The number of campus events with free food.

    I really do not miss:

  • The athletics apparatus. The shit with which I had to put up in the name of that institution, don't even get me started. At least now the athletes can make money.

  • The surprising lack of autonomy I had as an instructor. Everything that went wrong was my fault (including the academic integrity reports I had to make, or the reports from a few scary incidents involving immature students); everything that went well was just the Department™ or the course design or the textbook.

  • The egos. It might be my experiences, and this may be very different at other institutions, but academia seems to be a permanent state of big fish / small pond syndrome.

  • The growth of the customer service mentality. At least at UP, we've stripped away the performance of an educational credential not being a transaction, so it sort of makes sense.

  • Simultaneously not having the resources or background skills to bring disadvantaged (non-athlete) students up to the level needed to succeed in my classes AND having to grade on intangibles like "professionalism" that seemed to stack their disadvantage and ultimately result in just weeding out the first-generation or otherwise culturally disadvantaged students.

  • The hassle:bucks ratio of the entire experience. Teaching was sub-minimum wage.

On my best days at UP, I interact with students in ways that resemble the ones I wanted to have when I made my terrible life choice to become a professor. My favorite UP clients are the ones who are trying to learn and use the service more like tutoring.

On my worst days, I just try to learn how to code.