Confession time: I have no idea what year Terminator takes place. But I’m pretty sure we’re somewhere around the Skynet revolution. And if you listen to certain people, they’ll confirm it. “AI is the way of the future.” They want you to think robots are capable of generating content. And research. And everything else your average freelancer writer handles. Which leaves ACTUAL writers shaking and fearing for their livelihoods. But Terminator robots aren’t swarming the streets just yet. And there’s no reason for you to swear fealty to mechanical overlords. (Unless you feel like getting a jumpstart on things)
The Uses of AI
AI started gaining a foothold with content mills (my all-time favorite topic). Spitting out automated material in record time appealed to individuals and companies that wanted hundreds of blog posts completed in under an hour. A rate that no (competent) human being could ever hope to accomplish.
And with that level of success, the coders started marketing their services TO writers. Why waste your time crafting beautiful sentences and nuanced speech? Just plug a topic into a machine that happily spits out easy-to-comprehend language for the masses. Instant spike in your productivity with no need to engage your brain cells. It’s a win for everyone!
Well, except the readers.
And the infection spread from there:
- SEO guides
- Research aids
- Style guides
- Grammar and spelling aids
You could take an assignment and hand it over to your pet robot for processing in under a few seconds. And you were only out a subscription fee for the services. How to beat that? The logic appealed to plenty of people, especially those entering the writing field.
Who cared if everything read precisely the same? (Oh, right – robots don’t have personalities)
Google to the Rescue
So REAL writers began to panic. They feared the AI revolution would replace them. Because why would a company hire them if a machine could do the same work at a quicker pace for pennies?
(Overlooking the minor detail that readers couldn’t connect with the AI-generated garbage)
But all of that computer-speak started cluttering up search results. And it sounded much too similar. (You can code for SOME variability, but not enough to stand out) So Google took a stand, and they handed down a ruling that impacted companies where it hurt: their rankings.
Computers, alone, weren’t good enough; humans NEEDED to be involved in the writing process. Otherwise, sites would lose their first-page standings.
Writers everywhere rejoiced (think the end of Terminator when Skynet falls – at least, I assume that’s how things go). We were VALUED again! AI wasn’t ruled out (it’s here to stay), but it was nothing more than a tool in the box. Writers trumped ALL. Because human beings need to speak to human beings.
AI Isn’t So Strong in the “I” Department
The problem with AI is that it’s limited.
We love to think about intelligent robots (until they revolt or get too advanced and subjugate us). But they’re only as smart as their programmers. And they require constant teaching to get to the point of writing ONE understandable sentence.
In contrast, a freelance writer finished school eons ago and knows how to connect and reach their audience – no programming required. They have an entire suite of emotions, empathy, sympathy, and the ability to read something they just typed and realize it won’t work. (Or, in other words, they’re HUMAN) They’re fluid and flexible with their thoughts. And they can commune with other humans to make a coherent writing piece.
Put two paragraphs in front of even a child, and they’ll pick out the AI in under five seconds. Because it doesn’t sound intelligent. Even if it’s about a complex topic. There’s a lack of nuance and subtlety.
And technology screws up ALL. THE. TIME.
We like to rely on it, but it gets scrambled circuits and does crazy things – like deactivating hundreds of accounts for no reason. (You got it: I was one of those who received a notice that my Instagram was deactivated this morning – hello, Monday)
So expecting a fallible MACHINE to do your homework for you is a little absurd.
Stick to YOUR Built-in AI
There is ALWAYS going to be a new version of some technological doo-dad that claims to write better, faster, and cheaper. But it can’t substitute for the whimsy and creativity of the human imagination. And fretting that writers are going to be replaced by some upstart robot is silly.
The human brain is so complex that no one understands it. And what remains a mystery can’t be duplicated. So having that gift makes you irreplaceable. And rather than running around, panicking that your toaster has designs on your career, you should be WORKING. (If your toaster is talking or walking, though, it might be time to worry)
No one else out there can do what you do. Not an AI. And not another human being. There’s no competition. So instead of looking over your shoulder, put your head down and get to work.
Let the John Connors of the world worry about the robots.