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Can AI really write like a human?

By Ged Byrne, Toastmasters International

With important elections on the way in the UK and the USA, if you use social media, you can expect it to be awash with deepfakery in the months to come. Deepfakes are generated using machine learning employed in artificial intelligence technology; they can be audio, video or individual images. For many, deepfakes are a bit of fun. 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 $25million following video calls that turned out to be deepfakes.

Spotting a deepfake

There’s no guaranteed way to spot a good deep fake, 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 it 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.

Consider these two versions of a social media post. Only one of them was written by a human.

Version 1

Amazing day yesterday at the Oxford Centre for Animal Ethics Summer School. Fascinating

presentations and wonderful to spend time with interesting people and have the opportunity to share ideas and discuss important topics. Came away buzzing and looking forward to going back on Thursday.”

Version 2

Just wrapped up an inspiring week at the Oxford Centre for Animal Ethics Summer School. Engaging presentations, intriguing discussions, and connecting with diverse minds made for an intellectually enriching experience. Feeling energized, enlightened, and motivated to contribute to positive change in animal ethics.”

I asked the AI to keep it snappy, and I rejected the first version so that we could get something of comparable length, so both are simple and equally credible. The first is slightly more concrete since it references a specific day of the week. Looking at emotion things get interesting. The second article lists more emotions when it talks about feeling energized, enlightened and motivated. However, the first article uses just one highly emotive word: buzzing. There is also something about the way in which the single run on sentence uses so many ‘ands’. It won’t impress the grammar police, but it conveys so much emotion. Breaking the rules like this is a little surprising and very human. It’s hard to incorporate story in something this short, but the other clues are there.

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.


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. To find your nearest club, visit