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Creative Writing Writing 101 2018-06-28 00:00

Why AI Will Never Replace Writers


Everywhere you look, there are self-driving cars, augmented and virtual reality, and chat bots that are usurping customer service.

Many of today’s workers worry that artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) will replace their jobs, leaving them out in the cold while robots take over the world.

In fact, analyst firm Forrester predicts that AI will replace 16% of jobs in the United States by 2025. And PricewaterhouseCoopers reports that AI will take over 30% of UK jobs.

  1. The future: is it all AI and ML?
  2. How AI and ML can help writers
  3. Why AI will never replace writers

The future: is it all AI and ML?

Where will AI and ML stop? The answer isn’t as clear and defined as most would like. Scientists, engineers, and programmers are continually finding new and innovative uses for AI in today’s society. Usually this happens at the behest of someone who needs a specific fix, such as a government looking for a solution to reduce casualties during war. Voila: drones.

Consider, for example, how ML is taking businesses by storm. Businesses base everyday decisions on big data. AI and ML are the perfect tools to crunch the data and predict certain results. Because, less face it, human beings can’t crunch data like a computer. And algorithms make complex computational tasks easier because of their processing power.

AI and ML are great at automating repetitive tasks and non-judgmental decisions. Beyond that, they stumble. Consider how Google used ML in 2012 to teach a supercomputer how to recognize a cat from millions of YouTube video thumbnails. The computer had a 75% accuracy rate. But a preschooler can identify a cat 100% of the time. On the other hand, supercomputers can crunch difficult mathematical problems in seconds, while mathematicians themselves take a little longer.

The crux is computers can’t yet replace the human brain in some things.

How AI and ML can help writers

You are an amalgamation of your life experiences, your thoughts and ideas, and your intuitive ability to reason out and empathically tell a story. While artificial intelligence and machine learning are growing in leaps and bounds, they’re still a far piece away from writing with a personality.

One thing AI and ML can help with is compiling information for writers. Consider how quickly an algorithm could peruse millions of articles and data and potentially pull together a summary of its research. Now consider how long it would take you, as a writer, to research, summarize, and fact check all of that information. In this instance, AI and ML would be a useful research tool for a writer to create content faster and with more accuracy.

You won’t see AI and ML take over the creative arts soon. Harvard Business Review has an excellent post "Why AI can’t write this article (yet)" you should read. In it, the author talks about Roger Schank, a researcher and professor, who believes that a computer should be able to identify the plot of Romeo and Juliet after watching the movie West Side Story. Schank posits that "stories are central to intelligence, reasoning, and meaning." Since AI can’t delineate stories, it has a long way to go before it reaches true intelligence.

Why AI will never replace writers

What AI and ML are missing is the art of narrative or storytelling. We humans are emotional creatures. Writers appeal to fear, joy, love, persuasion, anger, and a host of other human emotions when creating content. And writers of all forms understand that storytelling is important because it helps other remember what we tell them.

Storytelling is how humans relate to one another. It is also how a brand relates to its customers. Every piece of content created for marketing purposes aims to build relationships with customers, and storytelling is the key factor.

Top copywriters create stories that place a brand’s ideal customer in the driver’s seat. They show prospects and customers how a company’s product or service will make their lives better, make them happier, or solve all their problems. Writers, unlike AI or ML, create memorable, emotional stories that compel and engage their target audience.

Only you can create a unique and powerful story based on your experiences. AI and ML can’t compete with the human brain for storytelling. Yet. Maybe someday in the future someone will teach a computer empathy, but until that day comes, the world will still need writers to reach people with words.

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