How Artificial Intelligence will influence professional writing
Artificial intelligence is making headlines in most sectors of the economy. From manufacturing to education, it is changing how we operate and perceive the world around us.
While no current AI can write at human levels, it’s worth looking at developments in the field thus far. Could there come such a time when AI replaces human writers and reporters? Can AI, for example, write a winning literary novel? Is there a possibility of a purely AI driven news agency?
To better answer these questions, we need to understand what artificial intelligence is and its current use and application in the writing industry. From there we can try to extrapolate and draw conclusions about how AI will influence professional writing.
So, what is AI and why does it matter to professional and freelance writers?
What is artificial intelligence anyway?
Artificial intelligence, sometimes called machine intelligence, can roughly be termed as intelligence demonstrated by machines as opposed to the natural intelligence typically displayed by humans and other mammals.
There is no straightforward or agreed upon artificial intelligence definition. In essence, it encompasses different machine level intelligence. We can, however, use this working definition of artificial AI from ZDNet:
“Artificial intelligence systems will typically demonstrate at least some of the following behaviours associated with human intelligence: planning, learning, reasoning, problem-solving, knowledge representation, perception, motion, and manipulation and, to a lesser extent, social intelligence and creativity.”
Current AI uses in professional writing
Professional writing is tough. Whether you are a blogger, journalist or publisher, you must write unique and compelling content that also keeps up with current trends. To do that requires trawling through a deluge of information and piecing together coherent and quality articles with quick turnaround times to beat deadlines.
In comes artificial intelligence.
You probably use AI every day in your freelance writing career. It’s subtle. You might not even realize you do. Think of spell checkers, plagiarism checkers, or even SEO optimization tools that you use on a daily basis.
AI-powered journalism is all around us. Major publications such as the Washington Post have full pieces written purely by AI.
It’s in-house developed AI known as Heliograf can write data-heavy stories on sports, markets, election results etc. This saves money and frees reporters from mundane stories and letting them focus instead on more in-depth investigative pieces.
Prominent publications aside, here are some other ways you probably use artificial intelligence in your day to day professional writing career without realizing it.
Quick and smart proofreading
Most word processors nowadays feature autocorrect and spell checker features. Some like MS Word Editor incorporate AI like elements that can understand context, flag grammatical errors, identify overused words and provide quick rewording suggestions.
Other AI-backed word processors include Grammarly, which also features a browser extension that detects grammar and spelling errors in everything you type including emails.
Atomic Reach is yet another editing platform that uses machine learning, a subset of artificial intelligence, to provide readability feedback.
Scanning and parsing information
Professional freelance writers scan tonnes of written documents to piece together their articles. With so much material and so little time, it can get overwhelming.
Artificial intelligence is making headway helping writers scan and parse long written texts to generate snippets that describe the essence of a long passage.
Others such as Algorithmia Summarizer not only parse written texts but also provides developers with libraries that integrate text summary making it easier to build additional functionality.
Professional and academic writing frowns upon plagiarism. When using another writer’s text, it’s best to quote and attribute appropriately.
Apps and platforms like Copyscape and TurnItIn use artificial intelligence to scan through huge databases to identify cases of plagiarized or duplicated text. Others like Emma Identity go a step further and determine the authorship of a piece of writing by tying together and searching through an author’s corpus of written works.
Producing easy-to-digest content is key to successful professional writing. Dense articles tend to bore and task readers minds which leads to loss of interest, especially in an attention deprived internet.
To write betters articles, professional authors use AI-driven apps and plugins like Atomic Reach and Yoast that use a scoring system to check content quality. These plugins help identify long sentences, crappy transitions, passive voice etc. and provide improvement suggestions.
From time to time as a freelance writer, you might need to translate your work into another language. Publishers also translate articles, books etc. to reach a wider audience.
AI-powered platforms like Google Translate come in handy in text translation. These apps aren’t perfect. You still need a great translator and editor to capture the essence of your written text. However, they do provide a launch pad and make the translation process easier.
Books, articles and posts recommendation
Book and article recommendation systems rely on AI-backed algorithms to make a judgement. These systems are useful in helping readers identify other related content they might enjoy. Amazon, for example, uses a sophisticated recommendation algorithm that suggests books or items based on what other readers have viewed or purchased.
Related article recommendation plugins rely heavily on AI and machine learning to identify articles and posts that might interest a reader based on what they are reading.
While not perfect, these AI-backed systems point to a future where artificial intelligence will play a more prominent role in the media we consume online.
What the future holds
It’s no secret that kinks abound in machine intelligence powered applications. These use cases, however, provide a glimpse of the future. One day writing might become a full-time machine occupation like many other tasks previously thought to be purely in the human domain.
Whether you like or not, artificial intelligence will become part of your writing experience even if you barely notice it.
Most artificial intelligence has failed to perform at human levels. However, there is still potential. Developments occur each day that push the field forward. AI might not replace professional writers soon but rather change how we approach the profession.
The path seems to lie in cooperation where AI enhances and supplements a writer’s life. This human-machine collaboration is a win for writers, readers and media companies. Writers can focus on producing in-depth articles that explore not just the “how’s” – as it’s the recurring case today – but also the “why’s”.
In what ways do you think AI is changing writing? Do you see these developments as an advantage or disadvantage for freelance writers, professional journalists, editors, publishers, etc.? Share your thoughts in the comments section below and join the conversation on our Facebook page.