China's ChatGPT Entrepreneurs Exploit Opportunities—and Scams Flourish

Chinese entrepreneurs are using AI to start content businesses and write self-help books. But the real money’s in selling the dream.

The job market in China is highly competitive at present. David, a recent business graduate, faced difficulties securing employment. He found that there were numerous applicants for each position, and even when he did find a job, the salary was not as lucrative as in previous years, coupled with demanding long working hours.

In China's fiercely competitive job market, David, a recent business graduate, faced challenges in finding employment. However, after discovering ChatGPT, an artificial intelligence chatbot, through videos on Weibo and WeChat, he saw an opportunity. With a thriving essay-writing business in China, David thought of using ChatGPT to write essays and approached a seller on Taobao, an ecommerce platform. He successfully completed his first assignment by having ChatGPT generate an outline and content for each bullet point. While there were some imperfections, David managed to submit the essay and earn $10. Encouraged by his initial success, he continued using ChatGPT for more assignments, earning around $40 for writing an economics paper.

Although ChatGPT is not officially accessible to Chinese users, there is significant interest in its potential. Online platforms like Youdao and Zhihu have seen users seeking ways to leverage ChatGPT for various purposes, including making money. Yin Yin, a content creation assistant, used ChatGPT to enhance the product descriptions of a Taobao store selling home decor. She extracted popular product descriptions and asked ChatGPT to make them more appealing by emphasizing features and adding emojis. This led to her being hired by the Taobao shop owner. Others, like Shirley and Vince Liang, have gone further, writing entire books and offering courses on using ChatGPT.

While the adoption of AI tools like ChatGPT is increasing, not all users have found significant financial success. Writers who turn to AI for content creation have encountered challenges, with plot inconsistencies and unexpected twists in their books. David also found that agents preferred to pay top graduates and native-level English speakers for essay writing. Despite the initial excitement, some entrepreneurs, like Liang, have faced difficulties in making substantial profits using ChatGPT. Liang, for example, has focused on generating names for newborn babies and companies, charging a fee for each set of names. However, he has found limited success in his attempts to generate lottery numbers.

In summary, while many individuals in China are exploring the potential of ChatGPT and other AI tools for various ventures, not all have achieved significant financial gains. The landscape is filled with opportunities and challenges, as entrepreneurs navigate the evolving role of AI in content creation and other domains.