AI-Generated Cover Art and Article Surprise Readers of NCMA’s Contract Management Magazine
Dominick Belfiore, Director of Operations and Special Projects
Phone: (571) 382-1121, Email: [email protected]
ASHBURN, VA, February 3, 2023 – Only by reading to the end of “AI Is Coming for Contracting,” the February cover story, did Contract Management Magazine readers learn the truth about author Annaliese Trenchfield. “She” was an amalgam of generative artificial intelligences.
In a first-ever test, the editors of the National Contract Management Association’s (NCMA) flagship magazine used Open AI’s DALL-E2 to create the cover image and the same company’s Generative Pre-trained Transformer 3 (GPT3) model to write the cover story.
“What better way to bring home to government and industry contracting professionals AI’s growing potential to alter their work and careers than by showing them what it can do?” said NCMA CEO Kraig Conrad. “The slightly ominous nature of the cover art was intentional,” he added. “All of us quickly must adjust to AI augmenting our work. But as “Ms. Trenchfield” made clear, rumors of human replacement are greatly exaggerated . . . for now.”
The cover package details current AI applications in government contracting. It was brought to life by Contract Management Editor in Chief Anne Laurent with the support of John Ferry, CEO of Trenchant Analytics, (TAC), which is prototyping an AI-powered contract writing application, AcqBot, for the Department of Defense.
“I had seen Cosmopolitan magazine’s DALL-E2-generated astronaut cover, and I thought, why not go all the way, and have AI generate a cover image and story about AI in contracting,” Laurent said. “Almost immediately after ChatGPT went public last November, contracting folks began musing on social media about using at work. So, I knew there was an appetite for exploring AI.”
Just a day after Laurent posted it on LinkedIn, the cover package had attracted thousand of impressions, the equivalent of going viral for an article about contracting. “It was averaging 100 hits an hour for the first day or so,” she said. “My post didn’t give away the surprise, but I did advise people to read all the way to the end of the story where Trenchfield’s “bio” appeared.”
Ferry, who prompted DALL-E2 to produce the cover illustration and article, generated 1,580 images to find the cover image. “Each prompt produces four images, so that comes to 395 individual prompts,” he said.
Like many ChatGPT users, Ferry quickly discovered the limits of AI language models. Asked to write about the use of robotic process automation in government and provide web links and citations, “GPT-3 gave me 50 or more very official-sounding system names complete with acronyms, military service sponsors, and website links. All were completely fictitious,” he said.
View the full February issue (member log-in required). For more on the story behind the February cover, look for the March issue of Contract Management, coming soon.
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The National Contract Management Association (NCMA), founded in 1959, is the world’s leading association in the contract management field. With more than 18,000 members, NCMA is dedicated to the professional growth and educational advancement of procurement and acquisition personnel worldwide. NCMA strives to serve and inform the profession in government and industry by offering opportunities for open exchange of ideas in neutral forums. NCMA’s Contract Management Standard is the foundation of foundation contracting training for the entire U.S. government. To learn more, please visit www.ncmahq.org.