A human being wrote this blog. That might sound like an absurd disclaimer—but it’s something we shouldn’t take for granted. Machine-generated copy is becoming widespread. There are plenty of entertaining viral examples (check out this AI-generated Harry Potter fanfiction, or Google AI’s eerie attempt at poetry). But you’ve probably read more sophisticated AI-generated content without even realising it.
For example, many outlets are now publishing AI-generated news articles, with varying degrees of oversight from human editors. The Washington Post’s ‘robot reporter’ has published over 850 since its launch last year, and some of them generated more than 500,000 clicks. This begs an important question: how long until our human copywriters and journalists are completely replaced by machines?
The near-future of content
While smaller companies may find the price of content-generating AI prohibitive, it won’t take long for the technology to become more pervasive and affordable. In a few years, AI-generated content won’t just be the province of major news outlets, but all tech-savvy marketers.
As AI progresses further, we’ll see the technology increasingly replicating human emotions. Persado has made the grand claim that its AI-generated marketing copy—designed to trigger specific readers’ emotions—will outperform a human copywriter 100% of the time. These tools are only going to get more effective, with the combination of Natural Language Processing (NLP) and machine learning.
We’ll also see the increasing use of AI for dynamic content personalisation. It’s nothing new to receive marketing emails that address you by name, but imagine every website and blog you land on behaving in the same way. Everything—from page design, headings and images, to the products an article promotes, or the emotions it tries to elicit—could be based on your digital behaviour.
The limitations of AI writers
Sound too good to be true? Some of it is, at least for now. While the future is promising, there are still significant limitations on the kind of writing AI can do. It’s taken its first strides towards emotional storytelling, but it’s a long way off winning a Pulitzer Prize—and Persado’s work is currently limited to a maximum length of 600 characters.
Long-form AI-generated content does exist—a program like Automated Insights can spin a great recap of a sports match. But it still lacks the creativity, empathy and perspective needed to create writing that resonates on a genuinely human level.
And there’s another important consideration. The more companies there are churning out huge amounts of AI-generated content, the more important it will be for your copy to stand out. Today’s bots might be fast, but they can’t understand or empathise with the richness of human experience. In a sea of machine-generated copy, the value to your business of human wordsmiths could skyrocket.
Posted by John on 18 April 2019