January 14, 2018 David Shamah

Artificial Intelligence: Not Replacing Writers Any Time Soon

As the lucky staff member who gets the honor of writing the first blog post of 2018, I took it upon myself to  write a post predicting some future trends. So here goes: While it’s true that artificial intelligence will be taking on more and more tasks as it gets more intelligent, content writers like me have nothing to worry about.

I say this because I just had my first underwhelming experience with online automated writing machines. According to a recent poll, nearly three out of four Americans, “are very or somewhat worried about a future where robots and computers are capable of performing many human jobs.” If three out of four are worried, maybe I should be worried too?

Hence the experiment: Write an article about “PR Trends for 2018” using an automated article content generator. A Google search for the term “online automated writing” generated a results page that listed the platform I used as the top choice, with the site description saying that the platform “makes article writing simple. Our technology creates unique, proofread high-quality content from scratch simulating a real human writer.” But it wasn’t so simple, it turned out. When I asked the generator to write me a story about “PR Trends for 2018,” I apparently had gone beyond the limits of its artificial intelligence; in response to my request, the site responded that I could get an article on either “PR Trends” or “Trends for 2018” (maybe you get the combined option in the premium version?). I chose PR trends – and here is what I got:

“It’s easy to keep on top of cultural trends that beam out at us from all media. How about public relations trends which might help your growth and development? These may be less accessible and tougher to master. Read on to discover the trends in public relations that can give you a head start. Paying attention and adjusting to PR and B2B marketing trends can help you in much the same way. Influencer marketing is an incredible strategy to add to your marketing plan. One of the latest public relations trends is the use of micro-influencers – those with audiences under 15,000 followers. While the size of an audience is an important factor in choosing a marketing influencer, don’t let it be the only factor. According to a joint report from the Association of National Advertisers and the USC Center for Public Relations, spending on PR is poised to change. More specifically, marketers plan to increase internal staffing and overall spending on public relations over the next five years. That is on account of the development of PR over the last decade, and the increased significance it’s had for marketers. Paul Roetzer, founder of The Marketing AI Institute, and general guru of all things AI, opened up about the future of AI in a recent interview with Hubspot. While an internal team, professionals in the field of PR can be beneficial to a business, public relations has many moving parts. When one survey asked about the future trends that will impact PR in the next five years, digital storytelling, social listening, and big data rose to the top of the list.”

It’s only after you get the generated article (which you have to share on Facebook to get access to, or otherwise pay for, sight unseen) that you get to actually read what they serve up – and then you discover that you are supposed to manually edit the article for style, grammar, etc. – not to mention paragraphs.

Back in the day, I used to do translations of Hebrew news stories for an English-language website, and the temptation to use Google Translate was very great – until I actually tried it a couple of times. It turned out that I could do the translation myself far more quickly (and with much better style) than it would take me to “upgrade” the Google Translate version of the story. Same here. And the sad thing is that as atrociously written as the generated content was, it was of the same standard of many articles and blog posts I see on many different sites.So in the end, I didn’t get a story about PR Trends for 2018 – but I did get to learn enough to safely predict where one trend is, or more precisely isn’t, going. I’m sure that artificial intelligence will at some point in the future be good enough to generate an article like this (sans the quoted part above, of course) – but 2018 ain’t the year that that is going to happen.