In the last year, one topic of conversation has dominated the content writing sphere — the rise of AI-generated articles.
As someone who coaches international writers who spend years developing their skills, I think about it a lot. I don’t want to see people lose their jobs, but is it really possible to stop the march of technology?
I’m no Luddite. Technology helps us, and complaining about change doesn’t make it less real. I understand the needs of companies who want fast, rankable content, but I also hear those writers who say ‘Machines cannot feel. Writing should make us feel.’
Although computer generated content is technically against Google’s ranking principles, innumerable companies have launched AI writing software, so business owners can generate copy without needing to employ writers.
Certainly, in terms of functional marketing messages and short-form copy, computer-generated writing could become the norm. And let’s think about blogs which provide quick answers and explanations — do readers really care who wrote it? Several software companies have claimed that survey respondents failed to spot the difference between human-written content and their AI article. It seems the odds are stacked against us.
Computers can generate new articles at a much faster rate than humans, and that speed will only quicken, which means the value of the time saved by AI far outweighs the price of software.
How does it work?
Well, AI composes images, music and words by sifting and organising huge volumes of data. AI writing is not, in fact, new. It’s a composite of pre-existing words and ideas, and always will be.
Results can be pretty accurate. This is an image of a person who does not exist. It’s a composite of many similar faces, built to form something we recognise as a human face. However, if you ask some engines for a cat, you’ll get this monstrosity.
The more variables an image has, the less recognisable the composite.
How we organise language into writing has many variables. It’s pretty complicated. But due to the advancement of natural language processing, it may become harder for humans and even Google to distinguish the difference.
Will AI steal our jobs?
One reprieve for worried content writers comes in the form of Shamila Iyer's review of an article written by Jasper (one of the leading AI content generators).
Interestingly, she claimed that the worst aspect of the article was not that it sounded ‘unnatural’, but that the content was poorly structured and repetitive.
I would add that although articles such as these score highly for readability, they lack rhythm, flow, sound techniques, slang, double entendres, puns, jokes, and many other nuances of language.
Robot hand typing on a keyboard
Google treats content as data. It cross checks thousands of factors to determine its quality and originality. It enters into an arms race with companies like Jasper, who try to trick the algorithms into viewing machine-generated content as unique and high quality.
But writing is not data, says Steven Poole in a 2019 Guardian article.
“[Writing] is a means of expression, which implies that you have something to express. A non-sentient computer program has nothing to express, quite apart from the fact that it has no experience of the world to tell it that fires don’t happen underwater.”
If AI wrote marketing campaigns with no further human input, it would base 'successful copy' on what has worked in the past. Every advert would read 'Buy now. It's great!' But as humans, we moved on. We need more creative methods to persuade us to buy. That’s why the relationship with machine writing will always remain symbiotic.
Undoubtedly, robots will help us write quickly, effectively and accurately, but without creative, and unique ideas from humans, the returns of AI content diminish over time.
For those of you writing for other humans, keep going! Improve your skills so you can become a thought leader, not just another writing robot.
When to capitalise words in English can be confusing. Here are eight rules to help:
1. Sentences - Capitalise the first word of a sentence, but NOT after colons, semicolons, or commas.
2. Names - Capitalise first names and surnames. Don’t use capitals for family terms (e.g. father, daughter, aunt).
3. Titles of works - For titles of books, films, blogs and articles, capitalise content words + the first word. Use this tool to help.
4. Quotations - Capitalise the first letter of a direct quote. Do not capitalise when quoted material is a fragment or implies irony.
5. Proper nouns - Use for geographic locations, buildings, streets, monuments, schools, companies, religions, languages, historical events, brands. Do not use capital letters for academic subjects, ‘sun’ and ‘moon’.
6. Official titles - Job titles are NOT capitalised, but official titles are.
e.g. “Zelensky is the president of Ukraine.”
“Thank you, President Zelensky.”
7. Acronyms & abbreviations are generally capitalised. Exceptions include laser, scuba, sonar, latin abbreviations, technical terms (mph, ppc), measurements (km, g, ml)
8. Use for days, months, public holidays and festivities. Don’t capitalise seasons or centuries.
Emerging Writing Scholarship Announcement
In case you missed it, the Emerging Writer scholarship is an opportunity for one international writer to work one-on-one with me, 100% free. This scholarship is designed to improve the writer’s language level, so they can submit inspiring work in English and further their writing career.
It's important for me to give back to the writing community, so I'm committing to running this programme once per year.
Without further ado, here is the 2022 scholar: Clement Maimo
Clement is a content writer who hails from Bamenda, Cameroon.
His lively application and writing swagger impressed me.
Clement explained, “Growing up, all I really had to cling to were my novels. I loved reading African folklore, History tales, and great works of art from famous writers like Charles Dickens and William Shakespeare. My writing journey would have been short-lived before it even began due to all the turmoil in my country-Cameroon; political instability and social unrest were the order of the day … My dream since I was 16 has been to one day become one of the greatest African writers, and be an inspiration to future African leaders, especially the youth.”
In the coming weeks, I’ll be sharing a few posts about our journey together.
Congratulations Clement - I’m excited to work with you.
If you are an international writer who wants to build authority and charge more, get in touch.
I’ll do what I can to help you out.