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Content Ex Machina: What Does AI Mean for the Future of Content Writing?

Digital Growth
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Remember the days when Skynet was nothing more than a product of dystopian fiction? Well, fast-forward almost 40 years after The Terminator’s box office release, and you’ll find artificial intelligence is being used in a variety of different ways in our everyday lives. 

From granting the first official robot citizenship to Elon Musk getting close to human trials for his Neurolink brain chip, designed to digitise the human memory, artificial intelligence is already very much integrated into modern society.

For the time being, we’re probably safe from a Schwarzenegger-led robot revolution, but it’s impossible to ignore the fact that AI is continuing to develop at a rapid rate.

One of the primary forms of development in recent years has been AI’s ability to understand spoken and written language and, in turn, construct an intelligible and comprehensible response. But what does this mean for the future of content writing?

With The Press Association already able to produce 30,000 AI-written local news stories per month, how far are we from living in a world that values the auto-generated word over its written counterpart? Let’s take a closer look…

How does AI work?

AI utilises machine learning to perform human tasks - in this case, content generation. Using a software process known as natural language generation (NLG) AI constructs a written narrative drawn from a library of data.

By analysing and categorising this data, the AI can then begin to understand the subtle nuances in language, tonality and form of different content. It then uses this data to inform the production of a variety of natural content styles with grammatical accuracy. 

From social media posts to financial reports, AI content can be used as an effective content writing tool as it has the ability to rewrite existing content or create new content for whatever purposes you require.

Why is this important?

Mainstream media outlets such as The New York Times and Yahoo! Sports are already utilising AI to generate content, but what is it that makes this so appealing?

1. Time-saving

From a business perspective, perhaps one of the primary draws is the efficiency of artificial intelligence. Whereas humans will spend a substantial amount of time creating a piece of high-quality content, AI can now produce the same in minutes - and often with fewer mistakes. 

Ultimately, the introduction of AI can have a significant impact on delivering a more efficient output overall, which can inevitably benefit a business’s profitability.

2. Cost-effectiveness and scalability

On a similar note, profitability can be maximised further still by investing in AI-generated content, as it allows the perfect opportunity for scalability with low profit margins. 

When you pitch AI against humans from an output perspective, AI provides a viable option for large-scale content production, as it can increase content workloads while simultaneously reducing the workforce.

From a business perspective, this means less in the way of wages to pay come the end of the month and bigger profit margins, and all without impacting productivity.

3. Quality output

In the context of content marketing, perhaps the greatest appeal of AI-produced content is the level of quality that’s achievable in the context of this greater efficiency. 

While many professional content marketers have spent years perfecting their craft, developing their ability to naturally integrate keywords and links while targeting specific queries and audiences, AI can learn the same in minutes – and potentially with better success rates.

This is because AI software is able to detect and decode search algorithms and associated ranking factors far better than any human being ever could. This allows it to succinctly deconstruct the formula for a top-ranking page to understand how best to appeal to search engines.

4. Ideation

Finding new angles on the same subject, ‘finding your flow’ or overcoming writer's block is a struggle most writers can relate to. However, with AI content generators, this isn’t going to be a problem.

For this reason, AI can be a nifty tool for content writers when it comes to the ideation process or getting past mental blocks. With the ability to generate well researched, authoritative content on any subject within minutes, AI can provide that all-important starting point for content - speeding up the creative process.

The problems

While the future may sound bleak for content writers, worry not – your jobs aren’t at risk just yet. AI content is still in its relative infancy, and as such, there are still various glitches that still need ironing out.

1. No human emotion

Great content is the piece that sparks an emotion or a reaction in the reader (positive or negative). To this, content needs to possess a certain sense of creativity and ingenuity that AI just can’t quite replicate.

The creation of content through an automated medium is, at its very foundation, formulaic and mathematical. Any writer worth their salt will tell you that these qualities have very little place in the production of high-quality creative and compelling content.

Perhaps this is best encapsulated – although admittedly with a lack of eloquence – by Robin Williams’ Mr Keating in Dead Poet’s Society – where he declares Dr Pritchar’s formulaic and mathematical deconstructions of poetry as ‘excrement’. While this is perhaps more relevant to Shakespeare and Yeats than it is your latest search-optimised blog post, the point remains the same: the lack of human emotion and influence significantly impacts how any reader connects with a piece of content, regardless of its form.

2. Risk of plagiarism and inaccuracy 

While AI can reduce the number of human errors in content, it is far from perfect. 

Relying heavily on data analysis and algorithms to produce content, there are still instances where the natural flow or sentences are off, or it perhaps uses factual data incorrectly within the context of a piece.

A reliance on data repurposing from the internet also flags up concerns around plagiarism, as some AI software simply scrapes content from relevant sources and re-organises or re-words it without providing enough unique definition. This breaches Google’s content guidelines and could be considered ‘stitching or combining content from different web pages without adding sufficient value’.

3. Lack of E-A-T

Similarly, AI content has the potential to miss the mark on Google’s content quality criteria for expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness.

Unlike brands and human writers, AI doesn’t have any writing credentials that can demonstrate to search engines and readers how authoritative it is on a particular subject.

For those solely using AI content, this could negatively impact your content’s chances of performing well in search engine results in the long run.

While the future is undoubtedly increasingly digital, the sheer integrity of the written and spoken word means human production will always have a place in content creation, whatever form it may take.

However, from epic tragedies to press releases, it’s clear that AI is going to become an increasingly prominent author in the contemporary worlds of digital marketing and, more generally, literature and linguistics. Let’s just hope the machines focus more on the writing and less on world domination.

If you’re interested in speaking to a human being about your content creation and wider marketing needs, email us with more details at hello@landdigital.agency or call the living, breathing Land Digital team on 0191 511 1014.

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