AI and its future implications have been a major topic of discussion as multiple platforms have revealed their powerful content creation abilities from generating images to writing full-blown articles. As the tech industry explores how to safely address AI’s risks and fears of job losses, one thing is for sure. This technology is not going away.
So, how can landscape professionals utilize AI to their benefit?
Pros and Cons of Using AI
The main attraction for using AI is speed and efficiency, as people are always looking to produce more in a shorter amount of time.
“Those that get proficient in leveraging AI can automate basic tasks and gain cost savings,” says Corey Halstead, co-owner of HALSTEAD Media. “What is yet to be seen, and what is causing all of the uncertainty, is how far the reach will go and what exactly will classify as basic, automatable tasks.”
One of the main concerns with adopting AI is reduced quality and premature overdependence. While using AI could seem like a way to cut costs, brand voice and marketing efficacy can suffer without quality control and human expert input. Other concerns include job displacement, lack of authenticity and security risks.
Halstead says AI, like ChatGPT, has fundamentally changed the world so it’s important to embrace it and learn how to leverage it in a productive, safe way.
ChatGPT is a well-known example of an AI chatbot that creates humanlike conversational dialogue, so that is the type of AI this article will focus on.
How AI like ChatGPT can be used varies based on the company’s size, but it can assist with tasks like marketing and sales, as well as team training and information.
“Sure, the AI can help smaller firms with blog titles, social media copy, job descriptions, etc., but it is also already an amazing resource for designers,” Halstead says. “I mean at the stroke of a keyboard, designers can gain amazing information on plant species and their needs, soil condition considerations for hardscape design, etc.”
Halstead says that ChatGPT has many strong suits that landscape professionals can leverage, such as process-driven content like basic letters, team training information and idea generation.
“GPT is the ultimate writer’s block breaker for sure,” he says. “Another very interesting strong suit is ChatGPT’s ability to change content based on who you ask it to impersonate. For example, ask it to ‘act like a residential landscape architect’ before asking it a question about design — things get really interesting really quickly.”
It is important to note that ChatGPT’s data stops in 2021. The AI is not infallible as it can still mess up facts, equations and answers, so verifying responses is still important.
Misconceptions About AI
The idea of being able to submit a prompt and having AI type out content in seconds obviously sounds amazing, but Halstead argues it’s not that simple.
“There will also be a need for human input, in my opinion,” he says. “The amount or depth of that input is yet to be seen, of course, as language models continue to evolve rapidly. But the misconception is that the AI is going to just write these amazing pieces of high-quality content and copy ‘easily’- when often, depending on the quality of the input prompts especially, that is just not the case.”
Halstead encourages landscape professionals interested in leveraging AI to educate themselves first on the basics of AI and what it can and cannot do now and in the future.
“AI like ChatGPT is extremely powerful, but it is far from perfect,” Halstead says. “I think it’s also very important to begin by looking for ways to help make employees more efficient, not to replace them. The AI needs expert team members to leverage it properly at scale, across the entire landscape business. Work as a team to test, experiment, implement, talk about, scale, and fully understand the opportunities that AI can offer you firm — and grow that impact through human capital first.”
Like any other tool, its usefulness is only as good as the person using it. Halstead compares using ChatGPT to those who had to use Google in the early days.
“You had to learn the right ways to ask questions in order to get a high-quality answer – the output,” Halstead says. “The same is true with GPT. A more thorough, detailed prompt equals a higher quality, more accurate response. So there is this divide currently – some folks that ask it a few things and then make their decision on whether it’s able to provide accurate information. And then there are those that are really learning how to leverage the tool for higher quality outputs.”
Halstead says no matter the quality of the prompt, there’s still the need to clean up the content to add your own flair or brand voice.
Below in italics is an example of some content written by ChatGPT when prompted to make a list of shade-tolerant plants.
There are several plants that can thrive in shady conditions, including:
- Hostas – These are popular plants that come in a variety of sizes and colors, and are known for their foliage.
- Ferns – Ferns are another great choice for shady areas. They come in many different varieties and can add a lot of texture and greenery to a garden.
- Impatiens – These colorful annuals are great for adding pops of color to a shady garden. They come in a range of colors and are easy to grow from seed.
- Begonias – Begonias are another popular annual that do well in shady areas. They come in a variety of colors and can be grown in containers or in the ground.
- Astilbe – This perennial produces feathery plumes of flowers in shades of pink, red, and white. It prefers moist soil and can add a lot of interest to a shady garden.
- Hellebores – These tough perennials are also known as “Lenten roses” and bloom in late winter or early spring. They come in a range of colors and can add some much-needed color to a dreary winter garden.
- Heuchera – This perennial is also known as “coral bells” and produces colorful foliage in shades of purple, red, and green. It prefers partial shade and can add a lot of interest to a shady garden.
Keep in mind that even shade-loving plants need some sunlight, so it’s important to choose plants that can tolerate the amount of light available in your specific shaded area.
As you can see, ChatGPT can easily serve as a springboard for your content creation. While fact-checking is necessary, you are the expert in your field and can identify where the AI got it wrong.
While search engines currently are lenient towards AI content, Halstead says this may not be the case forever.
“I believe landscaping companies need to be very careful with AI content right now to avoid future search penalties,” he says. “Just like any tool, there is a process for leveraging it properly and fully. The process for content must involve tools like Originality.AI and human editing for most brands.”