An image of a blue circle on a black background.

Can AI create an “Authentic” Commencement Address? – Herb Weiss

 By Herb Weiss, contributing writer on aging issues

It’s May and Rhode Island’s college seniors are graduating from colleagues and universities, ready to go out and make their mark on the world. According to the Education Data Initiative, this year there is an estimated 19,782 graduating seniors who will sit through commencement ceremonies with their families and friends, all listening to commencement speakers and watching diplomas being received. These graduation ceremonies are an academic milestone in the graduates’ lives.

The usual commencement address, traditionally about 10 minutes in length (up to 2,500 words), offers sound advice and inspiration to help the graduates to successfully navigate both their personal lives and professional careers throughout the years ahead. These speeches will vary widely, and can either be serious or lighthearted, but they should all be authentic, motivational, and informative.

The internet quickly makes the “sage advice” given by these commencement speakers available to millions across the globe. Whether you are a graduate or not, reading the speeches can be very helpful to anyone open to wisdom being imparted.

Many of the graduating seniors might not remember what they heard at the ceremony, but they just might remember the inspirational feelings felt during the commencement program.

As I have stated in previous commencement speech articles that I have penned, you don’t have to always be a politician, judge, television or radio personality, actor, or Fortune 500 CEO to give sound advice and tips to graduating seniors. As a matter of fact, it has been increasing popular to have graduates, themselves, deliver those commencement addresses, as well as “regular folk” who have overcome obstacles throughout their lives. Often, these addresses can be the most valuable with everyday knowledge. 

Real Folks Give Advice

In June 2014, this writer penned an article giving the Class of 2014 tips how they could ease into their professional niche in a state with the distinction of having the worst employment rate in the nation that continued to be one of the last states to see an economic revival – Rhode Island.

This article noted that there were many potential commencement speakers in local communities throughout the Ocean State who fly below the radar screen and could give college graduates sound strategies for success gleaned from their life experiences.  

Here are few tips given:

Michael Cassidy, Pawtucket, Retired“As you go into the ‘real’ world from the sheltered ‘world of college’ don’t be too quick to judge the new people you meet in the workplace.  People come in all types, sizes, shapes, temperaments, personalities, ages, and backgrounds; and they all have their own experiences from which you can learn. If you are smart enough to listen to what others have to offer, you can learn from them not only about what to do, but about what not to do. And most times learning what not to do is the most valuable lesson you can have.”

Susan Sweet, Rumford, former state administrator, non-profit lobbyist and advocatestated“In the short space that we are in the world, we must create meaning in our lives by contributing to the happiness and well-being of other people and other sentient beings. To do good and useful work, caring and acting for the betterment of others is the true goal of life.”

Larry Sullivan, Net Compliance Solution’s technical & consulting services. “Recognize opportunity. If you can’t identify opportunities, then they are very likely to sneak past you unnoticed. Most people’s search criteria are so narrow in focus that it can essentially blind them to opportunities available right in front of their face. It’s the old “can’t see the forest for the trees” scenario.  Also, see yourself as a valuable asset. Your self-image will make a huge difference in the type of opportunities you attract to yourself. If you see yourself as a valuable asset, and you present yourself as such, others will see you that way as well.”

Joan Retsinas, Providence, a writer.  “Savor, savor, savor. Savor the sunshine, and the rain. Savor your friends, your family, your colleagues. Nurture the people close to you. Be a friend. Fall in love. If you fall out of love, fall in again. Read “Winnie the Pooh” to a child. Eat ice cream. Ride a bike. Swim in the ocean. Laugh. As for fame, fortune, and success, don’t fret. They don’t really matter.”

This year, I haven’t been asked to give a commencement speech, but with all the talk about AI and how it can write essays and homework assignments as well as most important thing, I wondered what it would generate if I gave it a few prompts.  

Using AI to Generate Speeches

With emerging Artificial Intelligence (AI) I technology, future commencement speakers may be tempted crafting an inspirational and memorable speech.  ChatGPT (which can even mimic human speech in addition to creating high-quality content in seconds), is the latest way to quickly write a speech that stands out and leaves a lasting impact.

By using ChatGPT to write your speech, you can save time and create a speech that is tailored to your audience and purpose. But you must provide ChatGPT with all the necessary details and take the time to review and refine and tweak the draft speech to ensure it meets your needs.

Massachusetts Congressman Jake Auchincloss took a creative approach to his most recent speech on the House floor to make a point about artificial intelligence.  He was speaking on a bill to create a center for AI research, and used the artificial intelligence tool ChatGPT to write his speech.

According to a Jan. 20 article penned by Popular Science’s staff writer Andrew Paul, attendees of the World Economic Forum’s Davos summit openly admitted that they use AL for speeches and emails.  Speaking with CNN, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella stated in a speech that he is already relying on ChatGPT as a “writing assistant and thought partner,” reported Paul in his article, noting that among Nadella’s daily tasks, the AI chat program helps him craft emails, alongside speeches “in a friendly, upbeat, authoritative tone with mixed cadence.”

Last February, Isaac Herzog, the president of Israel, became the first world leader to publicly use ChatGPT, after delivering a speech at the Cybertech conference in Tel Aviv, partly composed by the AI ,the Jerusalem Post. Reported. AL wrote the introduction of the speech and generated a “inspirational quote” its conclusion. .

You can expect more people to follow Auchincloss, Herzog, and Nadella’s lead in using ChatGPT, the latest AI technology to write their speeches.  

Here’s my attempt: To the graduating class of 2023

After typing in “2023 Commencement Speech” along with key issues of interest to me such as  political “global unrest,” the “economy” and “political divide at the national and state levels,”  ChatGPT, was able to generate the following address that could be given to this year’s graduating seniors, in just 10 seconds, and with a perspective that reflects the way I was thinking.

“To the graduating 2023 seniors, I provide you with a commencement speech to thrive in the coming years.  

I am honored to be standing before you today as you embark on the next chapter of your lives. You are graduating during a time of great uncertainty and unprecedented challenges. The global pandemic has disrupted every aspect of our lives, the economy is struggling, and political divisions seem to be widening every day. But despite these challenges, I am confident that you are well-equipped to navigate these uncertain times and succeed in whatever path you choose to pursue.

First and foremost, I want to acknowledge that the current events have taken a toll on all of us, and I want to offer some advice on how to cope with them. The pandemic has changed the way we live, work, and interact with one another. It has forced us to adapt to new ways of doing things and challenged us to find creative solutions to problems. It has also reminded us of the importance of community and the power of human connection.

As you go out into the world, remember that you are not alone in facing these challenges. Seek out and build relationships with people who share your values and can support you during difficult times. Take care of your physical and mental health, and be proactive about seeking help if you need it. And remember to be patient and compassionate with yourself and others as we all navigate these uncertain times together.

The poor economy is another significant challenge that you will likely encounter as you enter the workforce. The job market may be tough, and it may take longer than you anticipated to find your dream job. But remember that setbacks are temporary and that your hard work and dedication will eventually pay off. Be open to new opportunities and willing to learn new skills that can make you a more attractive candidate to potential employers.

One of the most important things you can do to cope with the poor economy is to be financially responsible. Live within your means, save money whenever possible, and avoid taking on unnecessary debt. This will give you more flexibility and freedom as you navigate your career and personal life.

Finally, I want to address the political divide that seems to be widening in our country. It can be disheartening to see so much division and negativity in the news and on social media. But I encourage you to stay informed, engage in civil discourse, and seek out diverse perspectives.

Remember that we are all human beings with different backgrounds, experiences, and beliefs. 

We may not always agree with one another, but we can still treat each other with respect and kindness. Be willing to listen to other points of view, and don’t be afraid to change your mind if new information or perspectives come to light.

In conclusion, I want to remind you that you have the power to shape your future and make a positive impact on the world. The challenges that we face today may seem overwhelming, but I am confident that you have the skills, knowledge, and resilience to overcome them.

As you go out into the world, remember to be patient, kind, and compassionate. Take care of yourself and those around you, and always strive to be your best self. Congratulations, graduates, and good luck on your journey!”

With the growing interest and use of ChatGPT, will more commencement speakers take advantage of this new AI technology?  Will the graduating seniors see the difference from an originally written, “authentic” speech providing tips gleaned from life-long experiences (like speeches given by college graduates or regular folks) or an AL generated address?  Time will tell. 

The above commencement speech was obtained from


Herb Weiss, LRI -12, is a Pawtucket-based writer who has covered aging, health care and medical issues for over 43 years.  To purchase his books, Taking Charge: Collected Stories on Aging Boldly and a sequel, compiling weekly published articles, go to

Herb Weiss 2-volume book set, Taking Charge