AI Is Coming For Your Fortune Cookies

Some fortune cookie makers might opt for ChatGPT over human copywriters.

Artificial intelligence is a topic of discussion that's impossible to avoid in 2023, and ChatGPT is one product at the center of many debates. This AI chatbot, which debuted in November 2022, is capable of doing everything from helping home cooks plan meals to passing the bar exam, but even when the validity of its information is called into question, the one strength it consistently displays is its ability to write coherent copy. And because of that, it might come for our editorial jobs. The Wall Street Journal reports that the next time you crack into a fortune cookie, the message inside might have been written by a computer. Is nothing sacred anymore?

Who writes the fortunes in fortune cookies?

Throughout their century-plus of existence, fortune cookies have included a slip of paper inside featuring copy written by employees of the cookie manufacturer. It isn't an easy job: Fitting uniquely wise quips onto such a small insert is an art, and an occasionally arduous one at that. Fortunes must be imbued with that signature mystique we know and love, and they can't sound too repetitive. We've all tried writing genius tweets before and failed—now imagine that being your whole job. (Social media marketers know what I'm talking about.)

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The WSJ spoke to a Chicago-based fortune cookie maker, Winfar Foods, about the challenges of the business. Owner and CEO Charles Li said that the fortune writing can take long hours to complete in-house, so the company has previously hired outside copywriters to help with the workload.

How artificial intelligence is being used in the fortune cookie business

OpenFortune, a fortune-cookie-based marketing platform, has already started using ChatGPT to write new fortunes for its cookies. It supplies the written copy to fortune cookie manufacturers around the world, so from the company's point of view, ChatGPT is a gold mine of content that will only get better over time. The chatbot spits out fortunes in mere seconds. Winfar Foods is one of the companies that has adopted AI for its cookies.

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Not everyone agrees that this is the best use of AI, however. Kevin Chan, co-owner of Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory, told WSJ that he thinks this newfangled practice "is a sign that society is moving too fast." 

It's hard not to see this as some kind of tipping point in AI-generated content. Short sentences are certainly the ideal place for a nascent chatbot to start proving its usefulness, and if there's some sort of algorithm that can ensure a solid track record of satisfactory fortunes, then an AI service could feasibly wipe out the fortune cookie tasks that humans currently take care of.

From there, it's easy to see how its capabilities could spill over into other industries. There's currently concern that AI could replace journalists or copywriters of all kinds; others believe that this not only jeopardizes jobs, but the originality and creativity of the content itself. But hey, if we all end up out of a job, maybe ChatGPT can help more of us win the lottery.

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