Chat.openai.com has received wide attention since it was released in November 2022. The free online platform allows anyone to “chat” with an AI. We started by typing: Describe what you are in one sentence.
Reply: I am a large language model trained by OpenAI to assist users with a wide range of tasks and questions.
There’s been much talk about the potential for AIs to replace humans for repetitive tasks. We wanted to know if it could replace our team for tasks that we do every day for clients. Could chat.openai.com write an effective press release on behalf of the vessel’s interests in a maritime emergency?
We typed: Write a media statement for a fire on a containership in Southampton from the perspective of the company.
Reply: We are deeply saddened by the fire that occurred on one of our containerships in Southampton on [date]. Our thoughts are with the crew and all those affected by this tragic incident. We are working closely with local authorities and emergency services to address the situation and ensure the safety of all involved. We are also conducting a thorough investigation to understand the cause of the fire and to prevent similar incidents from occurring in the future. We will continue to provide updates as more information becomes available. In the meantime, our top priority is the well-being of our crew and the safety of our operations.
How did it do?
- Show concern and empathy? Yes, though a little too much. “Deeply saddened” is for loss of life. “We regret…” would have been more appropriate.
- Correct priorities (people, environment, assets)? It put people first which is essential, but failed to make any reference to the environment.
- Show the company is responding and establish next steps? Yes, very much so. “We are working with local authorities…” “…conducting a thorough investigation…”
- Clear writing with short sentences? yes, 100%, and with zero typos.
- Provide relevant details? No, but in fairness we didn’t give it anything to work with. If our team had been given the same half-sentence incident report, we wouldn’t have been able to include much detail either.
So, what would happen if we gave it a full incident report exactly like the ones we receive from our clients? We gave it a verbatim report from a recent drill, including the technical language, typos and the sentence structures of a non-native English speaker.
We typed (*typos intentional*): Write a press release based on this information: It is at 13:00 hrs UTC, 26th Jan. 2023 and the M/T Oops, IMO: 1234567, is in the North Atlantic in route to her destination Barcelona, via Gibraltar Strait.
The vessel experienced a hull failure due to a dangerous structural defect occurred by a floating object, while in heavy weather, at position
LAT 34°38N, LONG 27°.56W.
The sustained damage on the vessel’s side, approx. 9.5 m above keel, will be:
– Long Extent: #Frame 87 to # Frame 91 length ~ 20 m on STBD side.
The vessel is loaded with a total cargo of 97,101.191 metric tonnes, LSFO, with a draft of 13.80 Meters EK.
Tank soundings on the WB tanks, showing that:
WBT tanks No 1 and No 2, will be flooded 100%
She is also suffered a list of 5.60 degrees to Starboard.
Attention: Press Release
On 26th January 2023 at 13:00 hrs UTC, the M/T Oops (IMO: 1234567) was en route to Barcelona via the Gibraltar Strait when it experienced a hull failure due to a dangerous structural defect caused by a floating object while in heavy weather at position LAT 34°38N, LONG 27°56W.
The sustained damage on the vessel’s side, approximately 9.5 meters above the keel, is located between frame 87 and frame 91, with a length of approximately 20 meters on the starboard side.
The M/T Oops was loaded with a total cargo of 97,101.191 metric tonnes of LSFO, with a draft of 13.80 meters EK. Tank soundings on the WB tanks show that WBT tanks No. 1 and No. 2 will be flooded 100%. The vessel has also suffered a list of 5.60 degrees to starboard.
At this time, the M/T Oops is currently in the North Atlantic and the safety and well-being of the crew are our top priority. We are working to assess the situation and determine the best course of action. More information will be provided as it becomes available.
At a glance, it’s not bad! It looks like a press release. It gives the most important facts up front. It mentions the actions that are being taken, though not until the last paragraph.
However, on closer inspection there are some serious issues. It has restructured the input but hasn’t simplified the jargon. At several points, from the acronyms (LSFO instead of Low Sulphur Fuel Oil) to the description of the location (coordinates instead of XXX miles west of Spain), most audiences would be unnecessarily confused. It included too much detail, especially for an early stage. Details such as which frames are damaged are not relevant to most audiences. Most importantly, it failed to provide reassurance or show any human concern – perhaps not surprising as it’s not written by a human.
This AI tool is impressive and it’s fast. It can write a statement in seconds that would take our team 15 minutes to write. And it does so without spelling or grammatical errors. However, it lacks nuance, knowledge of our industry and it’s poor at showing empathy. For these reasons it can’t replace good crisis communications support… at least not yet.