Copywriters become completely redundant as soon as artificial intelligence enters the workplace. However? A cautious look past ‘Terminator 2030: Judgment Day’.
Robots and smart computers are taking over the world. The apocalypse of artificial intelligence (AI) hangs over humanity like a threatening cloud. This realization terrifies the editors’ department in particular. The end is near! Or is it all okay?
Well, we can safely say that computers are becoming more intelligent and are therefore taking over more and more human tasks – including those of content creators such as editors, journalists and copywriters. There are virtual assistants who provide us with all the comforts, there are even experiments in which computers create visual arts, music and make poetry. Incredibly interesting, but I still think that the human hand will continue to make the difference in the most creative part of communication, also in 2050.
Can you still distinguish between an editor and a robot?
Karlstad University in Sweden tested the quality of AI texts in 2014. The researchers presented 2 texts to readers: one was written by a journalist, the other by a robot. It turned out that the participants were barely able to determine which text was made by human hands and which by artificial intelligence. It was noticeable, however, that on average the readers found the texts of the robot more informative, but also significantly more boring.
In a major Japanese writing competition in 2016, the second place went to a pen fruit of a robo-author. The title of the book was ‘The day a computer writes a novel’. In 2020 Microsoft fired 77 journalists, to replace them with artificial intelligence. Exit editors, enter robots. The New York Times has been talking about a popular quiz live in which you can guess whether or not a text was written by human hand. And yes, that choice is harder than you think!
Don’t count yourself rich
Does that mean that the editor’s profession is doomed? Does ‘Judgement Day’ make each and every one of us redundant? Not quite, but don’t count yourself rich. What didn’t seem like a serious threat in 2014 (see Karlstad), will apparently already cost the first writers their jobs in 2020 (see Microsoft). Personally, I would already leave a financial report to a robot, but a creative text that should touch people? Nah.
Rough and unpolished
A practical example: to write an appealing speech for a director, I need a lot of information. It has to come from different corners of the company. That data is usually raw and unpolished. As a content creator/speech writer my tasks are: collecting, rewriting, prioritizing, summarizing, structuring, sharpening the target group and making it suitable for the speaker.
Gathering and shaping
My guess is that a smart computer can definitely help me with such tasks. Especially when gathering information. Now I regularly have to ask 3 or 4 colleagues for input. If one of them is on vacation, I have to knock on a replacement door. In fact, I just need them to point me to where the relevant data is. Everyone I ask has to delve into the subject. It takes a lot of time before I have the right input. Only then can I start ‘designing the content’.
We can effortlessly leave this collecting frenzy one-on-one to a computer. We simply agree that everyone stores, manages and archives the approved and current information about all projects within the company in one large database. With companies that want to work more and more ‘data-driven’, this will become an increasingly feasible scenario.
Smart computers then search and find all useful content, summarize it and propose priorities. Then they send this package to ‘the human being’ who spends their time mainly choosing a catchy presentation form for that cold data, adding the personal ‘touch’ of the sender, selecting a tone that suits the audience and highlighting the most newsworthy or telling example.
unbridled eagerness to learn
The great thing about computers and robots is: the more often you use them, the faster they learn. A robot that writes thousands of texts in a certain tone of voice has read, you need to correct less and less often in terms of style. He thrives on an unbridled eagerness to learn. All the more reason to really see the robot as a colleague – and to see yourself as its coach. You can teach him the tricks of the trade not only in terms of word choice and style, but also in terms of creative inspirations he can use the necessary help.
As soon as robots step onto the editorial floor, it makes us better editors, better colleagues and better coaches.
Rosy picture of the future
To be honest, I see a bright future ahead of me. Artificial intelligence will ensure that communication professionals have more and more time for creating or finishing creative content. The preliminary work (the research) will be more effective than ever, making our added value increasingly clear. There will come a time when computers and robots prepare the content for us in such a way that we only need to approve, sharpen or make the content attractive to the target group: people of flesh and blood as a kind of editor-in-chief.
Contact between man and machine
Communication will always remain a tool for people to come closer to each other, to understand each other better. As soon as we let computers or robots carry out all facets of the communication sent, to whom or what do the recipients approach? Personal contact is emotionally more valuable than contact between man and machine. As long as that belief remains, I don’t think we have much to fear from AI.
Last hour never strikes
As soon as robots step onto the editorial floor, it makes us better editors, better colleagues and better coaches. But don’t think that the creative streak of our profession will die. The last hour for the creative human mind will simply never strike. In fact, I am convinced that in the coming decades our creativity will become an increasingly important talent.
(PS: This article was written by a human.)
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