The robot writers are here

“Although AI tools are becoming increasingly sophisticated, they can’t replace human writers entirely.” That last word jarred me from my coffee and news peering this morning. Human writers will not be completely replaced by machines. Nice. What will be left for us, then? Crumbs of proofing and pre-publishing edits, or the nutrition of ideas and their communication? Things are changing fast.

There is so much data available about what we write, how we go about it and what strikes a popular chord. AI writing tools are becoming increasingly effective at helping us improve our chances of a positive outcome against these three objectives. This article summarises some benefits and pitfalls of using these tools to a valuable outcome. Themes focus on getting started, nudging a structure into shape and encouraging clarity. Ironically, during what has been a thin period of inspiration to write, the article itself nudged an idea to the fore in my mind.

I was wondering about the tougher question of what we write and whether these tools are useful in that regard. First instincts revealed a flat “No!”. How could these algorithms, still pretty basic in many ways, possibly substitute or influence inspiration and the need to communicate. How could it know what I want to say?

Then I started to wonder about the bots that pollute Twitter and Facebook so effectively. They are pretty good at creating the desired outcome. As are those which create copy for programmatic advertising. I guess it depends on what we mean by inspiration.

The examples of good practice in use of AI tools in the article are drawn from professional online writers. Those whose income depends on frequent volume and immediate reader response. That seems like an objective to which algorithms are very well suited. Honing the capture of audience attention is the arms race of our time in the content industries (learning included), and data is the fuel for us racers.

What’s the point though, beyond capturing attention? Robot narcissists maybe? I am suspicious of the data sources that can help robots to help us uncover our purpose yet.

Photo by cottonbro on

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