Since the release of ChatGPT in November 2022, the news has been awash with stories about AI software.
This tool is known to craft articles and essays in just seconds with the help of a prompt and a few parameters. It can write a poem in the style of Shakespeare, compose a thesis on astronomy, or simply provide a product description of a sweater.
While many celebrated the introduction of ChatGPT, others weren’t so excited. Many people are left wondering — will AI replace content writers, or will chatbots replace writers? Among the detractors are teachers and professors concerned that students will feed their writing assignments into the app and submit the output for grading.
One professor, Kristen Asplin of the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg, changed her approach to essays. She now requires all her students to submit their assignments in different stages of the writing process, so she can confirm that they’re actively working on the essay.
Another area of particular concern is content writing. In the past, AI-generated content tools shelled out written content obviously written by a robot (or someone with an inferior command of written language). With ChatGPT, it’s no longer so easy to distinguish humans from machines.
Will AI replace human content writing in the near future? Will we rely on AI-generated content to craft our literary works instead of hard-working authors such as Ken Follett and Stephen King?
Here’s why AI won’t replace writers.
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Personal Experience Can’t be Imitated
Any compelling piece of writing will have a strong voice that serves as an undercurrent to the narrative, influencing its every word in powerful ways. This voice is shaped by the author’s personality, education, and life experiences, resulting in a distinct, unique voice.
This allows a writer to communicate complex thoughts and difficult concepts in ways that make it easy for the reader to understand while also challenging them at the same time. But because an author’s voice is derived from their unique life experiences, it cannot be replicated or supplanted by artificial intelligence — the nuance behind a distinct voice simply cannot be forced or distilled into an algorithm. When it comes to brand messaging, how can AI understand the values of your business or who you are as a company?
For example, consider a comedian’s ability to take the banalities of everyday life and turn them into hilarious jokes that everyone can connect with. You won’t see an artificial intelligence pull a Jerry Seinfeld, go on a rant about socks, and have the audience in tears from laughter anytime soon.
So until AI learns to dive beneath the surface level of language, develop an intricate understanding of the human condition, and connect the two concepts in meaningful ways, it’s unlikely that it will be able to mimic a compelling voice and produce powerful, nuanced writing.
AI Can’t Fact-Check
AI content writing tools like ChatGPT rely on the data they amass, known as a neural network, a system based on math and sequencing. ChatGPT “learns” by analyzing data and picking out patterns.
The creators of ChatGPT, OpenAI, used many digital texts, including e-books, Wikipedia articles, and news stories, to allow ChatGPT to become the “smart” tool it is today.
However, ChatGPT can’t distinguish between inaccurate and accurate information. If ChatGPT analyzes data stating the world is flat, it will convey the same to you — but with an unnerving sense of confidence.
There’s a well-known term in finance to describe the phenomenon: garbage in, garbage out, or GIGO. Essentially, if ChatGPT picks up false information, it will expend the same details in its output. There is no second stop for accuracy checks.
Trustworthy companies with a reputation to uphold aren’t likely to jump on the AI-generated content-writing bandwagon right now. They know the repercussions of disseminating false information can have on their brand.
Instead, they’ll stick with the tried-and-true content writers, who spend time checking their facts before submitting a story.
Google’s Stance on AI Content Writing Isn’t Very Positive
Will AI replace content writers? Not if Google has anything to say about it.
Google dominates the world of search, and companies that want to rank highly follow its principles for content writing. If Google penalizes your site for violating its search quality standards, you’ll find your content relegated to the dustbins of the search rankings, far behind your competitors.
That’s a situation no company wants, especially when they’re paying good money for quality content.
In December 2022, Google updated its well-known E-A-T guidelines to include an extra “E,” likely to address the ChatGPT phenomenon.
To rank well on Google, content must meet all four standards: Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness. The newest standard, Experience, refers to a first-hand account of the content’s topic.
For instance, someone who writes about their own experience traveling to Zanzibar from the U.S. will rank higher than a blog about Zanzibar based on TripAdvisor reviews.
Since ChatGPT relies entirely on material sourced from other spaces of the internet and e-books, it’s unlikely to provide any first-hand information that meets the Experience standard.
Microsoft Is the Main Investor in ChatGPT — and Google Is Microsoft’s Rival
Consider the ChatGPT app’s largest investor, Microsoft. Microsoft has long been a competitor of Google, particularly regarding search.
However, Microsoft’s search engines, Bing and Yahoo, capture a tiny percentage of the search market.
Currently, over 80% of consumers use Google for searches on desktop computers, and that number jumps to 95% on mobile devices. In contrast, Bing and Yahoo command a much smaller share of search, which varies between 10 to 15% of the market.
Since search is Google’s bread and butter, they have little reason to saddle up to ChatGPT, a Microsoft endeavor. It’s more likely that they’ll penalize sites that use AI-generated content tools like ChatGPT rather than scurry them up the rankings.
On the other hand, Microsoft jumped to incorporate ChatGPT into its search functionality. Recently, the company announced a ChatGPT-4 initiative, which Bing will integrate into its search function to provide human-like answers to queries. We’ll see how Google responds next.
You Could Unwittingly Run Into Copyright Issues
Since AI programs rely on information from previously published sites, documents, and books, they have the potential to commit copyright infringement. This is quite concerning, and there isn’t currently a solution that can prohibit AI from unwittingly incorporating copyrighted works into its written content.
This could result in copyright owners pursuing infringement cases against those who use AI-generated content. It may even result in lawsuits against the creators of AI programs. We’ll see the impact over the coming months as AI tools expand in popularity. Developers might introduce anti-infringement measures into their algorithms to combat this issue, and it’s unlikely (but possible) that legislation will be introduced that regulates the use of AI-generated content.
Scammers Might Use AI Content Writing for Fraudulent Means
Increased scamming and content writing for fraudulent means is also a rising concern about AI. Will AI replace content writers, leading to more scams?
Most of us can recognize a scam website when we see one. There will be many grammatical errors in the content, ads might proliferate the site, and finding the website administrator’s contact information might be an exercise in futility.
However, content created from AI tools like ChatGPT seems strangely natural and complies with grammatical nuances, like removing passive voice and following appropriate sentence structure.
That’s advantageous for scammers. With AI-generated content, that scammy-looking website might appear downright legit. A little technical tweaking of the site and removal of banner advertisements could lead even the most discerning among us to scramble for our credit cards to pay for someone’s fake GoFundMe or sign up for a home refinancing scam.
But don’t think that regulators aren’t taking notice of the potential for AI-generated content scams. They are. If scams become a truly significant issue, regulators might take action to shut down AI-generated text completely. There’s simply too much at risk; data privacy, democracy, and consumer protection.
Do AI Content Writing Tools Have Any Benefits?
That’s not to say that all AI content writing tools are bad, however. There are a few that can help writers perfect their craft, organize their time, and plot their content. Here are three of our favorites.
Content writers who want to focus on the purpose of their content rather than grammatical nuances and spelling errors are wise to invest in Grammarly. Grammarly offers two plans for individuals — a free and paid subscription.
Most of its recommendations are available in the free version, but full-time writers can benefit from the paid version, which assists in word variety and clarity.
Grammarly is a must for ensuring that content passes the grammatical muster. After all, no company wants to post content full of comma misuse and obvious errors.
AnswerThePublic is a powerful AI tool that can help writers struggling to create content relevant to their topic. The tool generates hundreds of relevant questions by inputting a few keywords, allowing the writer to expand on their content naturally.
AnswerThePublic is massively beneficial to any writer who suffers occasional writer’s block. Like everyone else, writers tire; when they do, a tool like this helps them move forward.
Surfer is a content optimization tool that incorporates SEO into the writing process. The writer starts with a given topic, which Surfer analyzes for relevant keywords. It also identifies the highest-ranking articles that are closest to the topic.
With Surfer, writers obtain highly tuned software that suggests the optimal structure of an article, including the number of paragraphs, headings, and images. The writer knows their content hits the mark once it ranks over a certain number — typically 75.
Many companies find that Surfer is the antidote to simple keyword-based SEO. Since it suggests relevant keywords, there is less chance of the author drifting away from the article’s purpose.
Will AI Replace Content Writers? It’s Not Likely
With all that said… will AI replace content writers? Fear not; freelance writers have little reason to jump ship in search of a safer career, at least for now.
The implications of AI content writing tools are just beginning to be known. We believe that companies and regulators will place restrictions on the mechanism that limits its usefulness in the world of written content.
However, while in the discovery period, it’s best to be aware of potential AI scams and research before handing over your details to a site you’re unfamiliar with.
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