Is AI Coming for Your Content Job?
Author: Tricia Heinrich
June 12, 2019
Subscribers to Grammarly Premium, the cloud-hosted grammar-checking and plagiarism tools platform, just got service enhancements. Content correction capabilities have been boosted with features that detect and suggest corrections for inconsistencies in dates, capitalization, spelling, hyphens, and acronyms throughout a document.
Who cares, you ask? Not exactly a “game changer.” Right?
Right. However, it is a likely portent of things, good and bad, to come. It set off an interesting discussion at Bospar:
- Is this another harbinger of “the singularity,” the hypothetical moment in time when machine intelligence surpasses and supplants human intelligence?
- How soon does this mean we in the content creation and editing business face total replacement by artificial intelligence (AI) bots? Are we becoming dinosaurs of the Internet Age?
It seems to me that the answer to this question is “no.” Or, at the very least, “not yet.”
Given predictions that one-fifth of the world’s jobs are poised for extinction by 2030, the future draws close. Luckily for us human writers and editors, content is much more than rules-based words strung together to be “readable” or to “scan correctly.” This calls to mind the iconic Spider-Man quote, “With great power comes great responsibility.” As guardians of the proper and compelling use of words, we—the human content creators—have unprecedented HUMAN-only responsibilities.
They begin with our clients. Clarity and consistency in language are the first and most impactful ways that stakeholders—customers, employees, partners, and investors—experience a brand. Sloppiness is a liability. Use of nuance for maximizing positive target audience experiences is mission-critical. It has never been truer that you do not get a second chance to make a first impression. Other products, other brands and other options are a click away, and bad experiences of any type can go viral instantly.
It’s a matter of more than just good punctuation and grammar. A colleague observed, “Updating automated spell check and basic grammar is useful. But letting an AI govern sentence rhythm and subordinate clauses will drain the voice, color and originality from a piece. As long as the written document is used to convey insight, opinions or impressions or to grapple with the emotion of new developments, human writers will never be replaced.”
Another colleague added, “Consistency brings coherence and polish. As with many AI innovations, these new Grammarly capabilities are an opportunity to make the jobs of human writers more interesting, fun and challenging. Tools like Grammarly will ensure cleaner work, so the author’s message is not lost in distractions from errors. Bottom line: writers and editors will never be obsolete. The mediums and tools will change, but communication requires an understanding of human interaction and the ability to convey emotion — an art requiring a human connection in order to be authentic.”
I am in violent agreement. Grammarly’s enhancements facilitate faster time to consistency. However, they remain tools. “I’ve read articles an automated system wrote about my daughter’s softball games based on stats we input,” explained another member of the Bospar Content Team. “They got the stats right, but the stories made no sense.”
Machines will get more human-like. They will increasingly have their place. However, their complete substitution for all content creation and editing seems like science fiction.
The real test of copy is that it is found compelling—by human audiences. Fortunately, for the foreseeable future, the human pen will be mightier than the AI sword.