AI writing isn't just a developmental technology of the not-too-distant future, like self-driving cars and robot butlers.
It's here to stay.
You might already know that artificial intelligence itself is an integral part of our existing society.
Today, we're about to discuss AI writing at length, but even outside content creation, think about how often you rely on artificial intelligence.
You’re probably using it right now. Your email spam filter, for instance, relies on AI. If email filters were simply rule-based and flagged trigger words, spammers would update their messaging to circumvent the filter. Email AI gathers message phrasing and meta data in addition to your daily actions, to learn what you consider to be spam.
Mobile check deposits also rely on AI to decipher and convert handwriting. Facebook uses AI to recognize faces for tagging purposes when you upload a photo, personalize your newsfeed based on your interests, show you targeted ads, et cetera.
Amazon’s product recommendations are based on your browsing history and what other customers viewed are AI. Google Maps uses AI to analyze traffic conditions and construction projects when plotting your best route and redirecting if you miss a turn.
Mobile voice-to-text features are AI, as well as smart assistants like Alexa, Cortana, and Siri. Also, those chat bots we all love to hate.
Taking a summer flight? Commercial airplanes use autopilot for most of the trip, which is, you guessed it — AI.
Starting to get the picture? AI is all around us, and we don’t even notice it! So, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that AI writing is now being embraced by thousands of content creators.
My new workshops, including Learn to Write and How to Write a Press Release, cover all-new lessons on how to create content with AI tools in the process. My favorite AI writing tool so far? HyperWrite.
Will AI Writing Fully Replace Human Content Creators Someday?
My prediction: It's unlikely that 100% AI writing will fully replace human writers, no matter how futuristic GPT-3, 4, and its successors become.
I’ve been in the content marketing business for a decade, running a content writing agency; I make a point to study AI advancements in my industry at least once a year.
This year, the technology has impressed me like never before. So much so, that I’ve implemented the use of AI content creation tools in my own team (keep reading for more on that).
Back in 2017, my favorite industry hero Joe Pulizzi shook me when he left a comment on my CMI article predicting that most content would be software-generated by the year 2027. That’s when I took it upon myself to stay up-to-date on AI.
Now, here we are in 2021. And despite the remarkable growth and development in AI over the last few years, I still stand by my belief that AI writing is a powerful tool to help human content creators save time, but it’s never going to replace them and write 100% of the content in the future.
Sorry, Joe. Agree to disagree?
Human Content Creators vs. Artificial Intelligence & AI Writing: Who Has the Edge in 2021?
Before you start placing your bets, let’s take a moment to consider the unique perspective of consumers in a post-pandemic, politically divisive world.
Edelman’s 2021 Trust Barometer report revealed an all-time low for trust in informational sources. In contrast, trust in individual businesses is at a global high. When consumers felt they couldn’t trust the government or media, they turned to businesses for information instead. Read more in this Content Hacker blog I wrote on trust.
That means there’s more pressure than ever for companies to be reliable and trustworthy authorities in the market.
Writing errors cost brands over $3 billion in damages every year, and in today’s volatile atmosphere, an incorrect fact, misquoted statistic, or blatant error just might turn potential customers away from your brand for good.
Edelman has also reported that, after price and affordability, trust is now the second reason your consumers buy.
With this new understanding of consumer expectations, the rules of the game have changed in the human vs. machine contest. Consumers overwhelmingly prefer interacting with a person rather than a chatbot for customer service issues.
But what about content creation?
AI writing tools are changing the trajectory of writing and saving time.
I’ve tested tools before, as my 2017 CMI article recapped, but none have impressed me like the ones I’ve tried this year, built on GPT-3.
At the beginning of the experience, I hesitantly paid $10 to access one month, or 10,000 words, created by HyperWrite, a recently-launched, third iteration of Generative Pre-Trained Transformer (GPT-3) AI writing software funded by the same investors that funded Amazon.
Instantly, I was beyond impressed. The program was easy to use. In fact, the navigation was reminiscent of working in Microsoft Word, which I personally enjoyed. I fed the AI a basic prompt that took about 60 seconds to input. About eight minutes later, I had an 800-word blog post written by the AI. The prompt was “5 Lessons from the 7 Highest-Paid YouTubers.”
Factoring the cost of the trial program, that blog post cost me a total of 80 cents to produce in less than ten minutes. I ran the prose through Copyscape to ensure the content was 100% original.
To make it a fair test, I also gave the same topic to one of my human writers for a word-for-word, fact-for-fact comparison.
Here are the results:
Even though the AI writing tool was original and surprisingly well-written for a bot, it was factually inaccurate. HyperWrite chose a YouTuber who earned $7.5M per year for its number one pick.
My agency writer, after doing his research, discovered a YouTuber who earned $17M last year.
That’s a huge difference, $7M vs. $17M.
Besides the inconsistencies (which, going back to our earlier discussion, can be detrimental to your brand’s trust image), the AI seemed a tad… robotic. To be fair, it is a bot, so you can’t judge it too harshly for that.
But the human writer’s natural flow and sentence variety had a certain je ne sais quoi that the AI just couldn’t imitate.
Consumers aren’t easily fooled. Chances are, they’re going to recognize bot-written content that’s missing a human touch, and that may result in people losing trust.
Publishing solely bot-written content isn’t a smart move, even though it’s 2021 and tools like HyperWrite exist. However, publishing content written by a human and a bot is a smart move. Here’s why.
3 Ways Content Creators Can Be More Efficient with AI Writing Tools
Based on the research and current trends, the content marketing industry is predicted to be worth more than $600 billion by 2024.
And the top outsourced activity?
With Google’s human-based SEO evaluation trends constantly pushing the creation of informative, engaging content that is useful to consumers, it’s really no surprise that the content industry is booming and companies are looking to outsource material.
While I did give the winning points to my human writer instead of his bot competitor in the YouTube challenge, that doesn’t mean AI can’t have a place in our writing process. It’s still an incredibly valuable tool.
Here are the ways my agency has been encouraged to use AI to improve their efficiency. (See the post on my agency's blog where I talk about introducing AI for the first time.)
1. Use AI Writing to Beat Writer’s Block
It happens to the best of us. A writer stares at the blank page, and that white screen stays blank. The gears have simply stopped turning in the brain. Leaning on AI to make recommendations can be tremendous in helping the words flow again. A little jumpstart can be just the remedy to power through a blockage and get back into the groove.
Creatives often rely on the amount of energy they have in a day, which is unpredictable at best, draining and difficult at the worst. Having AI there and ready to help us form the first draft is a powerful tool.
2. Use AI Writing to Write Entire Drafts
AI has come a long way, but it needs a human’s help to produce a fully polished final draft. Some of the issues that still need to be fixed by a human include:
- Repetitive words and phrases
- Thoughts that don’t circle back and connect with each other
- Inadequate sentence variation
- Incorrect facts and citations (serious issue for brand trust)
- Lack of empathy and experience
But in many cases, although the AI program didn’t generate a piece of content that was immediately ready to be published, it did still create a workable first draft that just needed some extra verification, editing, rewriting, and TLC from a human.
3. Use AI Writing to Cut Overall Production Time
Writers in my agency who tested the AI reported their production time was reduced by as much as 50%. That’s certainly nothing to scoff at! Imagine how much more productive content creators can be as demand increases in the industry and writers are able to cut their work time in half per project.
Final Thoughts on Tag-Teaming Content Creation with AI Writing Tools
There’s no escaping AI. It’s already an everyday part of our lives, so seamlessly integrated now that we don’t even notice it.
But will it replace human content creators in six short years, according to Joe’s prediction? I just can’t see that happening. (Sorry, Joe.)
I’m ecstatic at the rapid progress AI has made since I first started paying attention to it in 2017. The technology has developed into a game-changing supplemental tool writers can use in their ideation process. It can save time, reduce frustration, and help us cut back on our caffeine intake.
At the end of the day, quality is the most important element, which is why my writing agency will never publish 100% bot-written content. Errors on top of a lack of empathy and variety can tarnish our reputation as well as our clients’ reputations.
I do, however, see serious value in AI. Reliable tools that can help human writers produce faster, better material is going to help us keep up with the insatiable and ever-growing demand for fresh content.
Artificial intelligence isn’t going to replace us. As long as we stay one step ahead of the technology and evolve with it, content writers have nothing to fear.