AI content generation is common today. Companies as big as established media outlets such as the Guardian, to small online businesses run by bloggers, are supplementing their content writing systems with AI to publish more often.
So the question of whether AI can replace writers is not for discussion now. Clearly, it can.
But whether AI can write better than humans and replace professional writers remains a mystery we as writers find ourselves pondering about.
A good number of grandiose articles on the internet could confirm our fears.
Here’s one example of an AI-generated article about Asheville that could easily pass for a literary masterpiece.
Meanwhile, a college student, Liam Porr built an AI-generated blog that fooled tens of thousands before he confessed the hack. He wanted to prove that AI can be mistaken for a human writer.
Researchers have even delved into finding whether humans are capable of knowing the difference between AI content and Human written works, only to realize some disappointing stats.
For instance, the opening lines of the “One Hundred Years of Solitude” were translated by AI and 62% of respondents of a survey thought it was written by a human translator.
If we cannot perfectly distinguish AI content from human written content, what could challenge the idea that AI will advance well enough to create content that’s as good or even better than human written content?
In 2016, an AI-generated novel almost won the Hoshi Shinichi Literary Award. Judges claimed its only shortcoming was in character descriptions. This happened when the underlying technology of AI was primitive.
Right now we are on the path to GPT-4 technology which has 100 trillion parameters – more than the human brain, and the potential to recognize the visual world.
Not only is AI technology advancing in the sheer capacity of processing power, but It’s also making strides in the ability to perform complex processes with limited resources.
So, is it crazy to say that AI could start to write better than humans?
What is AI?
Artificial intelligence is the science of creating smart machines using algorithms to perform tasks that require human intelligence. AI has disrupted many industries and continues to do so with some realizing more benefits than others.
The content industry has had its fair share of shake-ups as AI claims an increasing significance in writing processes. Most evidently, AI has elevated some tasks writers find repetitive, tedious, or unexciting.
AI headline generators like CoSchedule take away the hustle of writing captivating headlines.
AI grammar checkers ease the editing process making it possible to effectively rid of any errors in your writing at a sliver of the time it takes a professional proofreader.
AI plagiarism checkers help eliminate plagiarized work making your articles original and unique.
However, the current functioning of AI content generation technology might be contributing to its deficiency in mimicking human writers which makes it far-fetched that AI could write better, at least for now.
How Does AI Write?
AI writing employs deep learning and natural language processing using millions of writing samples in a database.
Through deep learning, AI identifies patterns from the given samples and mimics the working of human writers. The result is churned content from a series of the most relevant articles in the database.
Meanwhile, natural language processing gives machines the ability to understand and generate text in the way humans do. This contributes content that’s abstract but makes sense and adds value to humans.
Thus, AI produces structured content that’s similar to humans by using formats, templates, and vocabulary programmed into it. It also creates content much faster than humans. But that’s just about it.
AI cannot replicate the full set of cognitive abilities of the human brain. It cannot process nuance, creativity, empathy, and emotions as humans do. It can be intelligent and can rewrite text, but cannot simulate ideas and expressions.
Why AI Cannot Write Better than Humans
Today’s consumers want more personalized content that shows an understanding of their needs. Simple factual statements cannot suffice at convincing consumers to take action, be it buying a product, signing up for a newsletter, or leaving a comment.
AI can’t produce writings that are more than strings of facts such as product features.
For instance, here are two product descriptions of the same product. Alibaba uses AI to generate product descriptions while Dooney & Bourke employs human writers.
Alibaba – “women’s leather envelope clutch wrist bag”
Dooney & Bourke – “Soft pleats, rolled top handles and a structured shape adds ladylike chic, while a divided interior with magnetic closures and a detachable strap adds casual convenience.”
While Alibaba gives a basic and general description for the product, Dooney & Bourke tailors its copy to address a buyer’s persona through empathy and experience demonstrating a clear understanding of the buyer’s needs.
And that’s what consumers are paying more attention to.
Why Human Write Better
The complexity of human thought and emotions surpasses AI in choosing the right words in any given context and makes writers indispensable.
And guess why else humans write better than AI?
- They understand subtle differences in tone. They know a health blog will have a completely different tone than a technology blog.
- They can choose the right words among synonyms to perfectly describe a feeling that is relatable to readers.
- They’ll write conversationally; constantly engaging with the reader and making them feel like they’re having a conversion with them.
- They express authenticity, originality, and creativity through storytelling thus creating content that differentiates a brand from the rest.
- They develop ideas from facts and form opinions based on information available digitally and in reality.
AI is not anywhere close to mimicking these complex human abilities which are the foundation of great content. It cannot impress readers who appreciate good writing.
People read for emotions, humanity, and assurance. They desire to feel connected. AI content cannot fulfill this desire.
AI Needs Humans
For now, AI is an automation solution for the types of jobs that don’t require human creativity. Tasks like research, editing, headlines creation, grammar perfection, and plagiarism detection.
Once it eliminates these tasks, human writers can focus on work that calls for creativity, fine-tuning, and precision.
Lest we forget that even in automation, AI doesn’t meet the standards of professional human writers. For instance, Persado which claims to mirror emotions in copy has fallen victim to reviews that cite it produces formulaic and ridiculous headlines.
This case bolsters the idea that AI is only as good as the data it has access to and its algorithm’s functionality. It also proves that without subsequent human intervention, AI content is far from perfect.
At best, AI content generation is perfect for overcoming human limitations, and only when writers work in tandem with AI, will the full potential of AI be realized. But not as an independent tool.
Human writers can therefore maintain the edge above AI writers by doubling down efforts on the skills and abilities that make them superior, i.e. creativity, storytelling, empathy, conversational writing, and tone variation.