Robot writers, allegorical algorithms, and automated content generators sound like subtitles in a science fiction movie, but they’re not. Because they’re real, and they’re here. So, be ready to meet your new staff writer … AI. As far back as six years ago in the last six months of 2014, AP released more than 3,000 articles using Automated Insights Wordsmith program. Since October of 2014 these computer generated posts have been completely automated. They’ve been written, edited, and posted by robots — untouched by human hands or minds. You’ve most likely read automated writing but were unaware of it. Early automated writing was little more than a random word generator. Today’s systems are sophisticated algorithms that deliver highly digestible content and do it fast.
Which was Written by a Bot and which by a Human Staff Writer?
The two excerpts below were published in the LA Times. One was automated. It scooped every other publication on this event. The other was a follow-up piece written by humans. Can you tell the difference?
A shallow magnitude 4.7 earthquake was reported Monday morning five miles from Westwood, California, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. The temblor occurred at 6:25 a.m. Pacific time at a depth of 5.0 miles.
According to the USGS, the epicenter was six miles from Beverly Hills, California, seven miles from Universal City, California, seven miles from Santa Monica, California and 348 miles from Sacramento, California. In the past ten days, there have been no earthquakes magnitude 3.0 and greater centered nearby. – BBC
Seismologists say Monday’s magnitude 4.4 temblor near Westwood could mark the beginning of the end for L.A.’s years-long “earthquake drought.”
Typically, they would expect a 4.4-sized earthquake about once a year in the Los Angeles Basin, but that hasn’t happened for years. We don’t know if this is the end of the earthquake drought we’ve had over the last few years, and we won’t know for many months,” said Caltech seismologist Egill Hauksson. – LA Times
Was it One or Two?
So, if you identified the first post as automated, you are correct. Ari Bloomekatz, Rong-Gong Lin II, and Matt Stevens, three living breathing people, wrote the second piece. Their article uses quotes to project a human voice. The robot didn’t, but that shouldn’t diminish the automated content; the computer generated post beat everyone online and allowed the human writers to concentrate on creative writing.
Books, Books, and more Books
Would you believe one man is responsible for more than 700,000 titles? That’s what Phillip M. Parker has accomplished over the last ten years, except he hasn’t written one word. Professor Parker created and patented software that amalgamates information on specific topics. It can create a book in twenty minutes. Amazon lists more than 100,000 of his books under the name of his company Group International.
Will a Robot End up in the Cubicle Next to You?
So, maybe? Probably. Yes. And that won’t be all bad. Because, unlike the doom and gloom predictions of apocalyptic science fiction, robots can be a good thing. Robotic automation has streamlined industry, taken mundane, repetitive tasks out of the hands of humans, and made life better. Robots can do the same for writing. Writing software can be used to generate reports, technical journals, and manuals freeing humans to do what they do best, think past the obvious, to uncover the beauty in a story, to make it — human. What are your thoughts? Do you write? Are you ready to share your office with a bot?
Did I Strike a Nerve?
If this post struck a nerve, you might want to check out my book, How to Stay Ahead of Your Business Blog Forever. Because the book is full of action plans for you to create a blogging/writing system that works for you. Or you could hire a new staff writer.
If you enjoyed this post you may also like, How to Defeat Writer’s Block.