The Future of Writers in the Age of Artificial Intelligence (AI)

Can human writers outpace and outdo the tech development, especially Artificial Intelligence? (Photo source: Wim van Rossem / Anefo at Wikimedia Commons)

Everyone is alarmed at the speedy development of technology. With Artificial Intelligence (AI) gaining momentum these days, I become more conversant with this topic.

And of course, the conversations about  AI are mostly about how much the potential that AI can offer for us to solve many current issues. On top of that is the ever growing anxiety that AI will take place humans. More unemployment can be foreseen in the future if AI is not controlled.

As a writer myself, I’ve seen some news about some machine or algorithm or software that writes hard news on sport events or natural disaster hard news.

So if you ask me if I should feel worried or not about the ongoing circumstances of the writing market, I guess I choose to stay optimistic.

Why so?

Well, all I can tell is that this thing dubbed as AI is not competent of analytical writing. And because they are machines, they don’t have unique personalities at all. They are just machines. So they can never ever write any opinion pieces just like you and I do!

In spite of all this optimism, I know some perils lie ahead of us writers.

We cannot just sit idly in our chairs and casually wait until they devour us as a whole.

Just recently, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (popularly known as MIT) informed public that a team of researchers managed to develop AI that has the ability to read scientific papers and summarize these cumbersome manuscripts into a sentence or two. In other words, they are trying to invent a summarizing machine!

It is said that the AI may be useful for wordsmiths like me to scan heaps of papers to get a preliminary sense of what they are about.

But the AI is also showing promise in some other fields such as speech recognition and machine translation.

Speech recognition is technology that has the ability of recognizing spoken words. And all these can be changed into text. According to Research and Markets research firm, speech recognition market will be worth US$18 billion by 2023.

What’s so special and beneficial about speech recognition?

It is claimed to be very time-efficient and energy saving. For example, if you have to communicate with multiple people/ companies over email, with speech recognition and AI you’ll never need to type emails and send them manually.

Head of Revenue at ClaraLabs Briana Burgess stated that Clara (a rebranded version of the Siri virtual assistant technology you see on iPhone and other iOS devices) has helped her send a lot of emails to schedule and reschedule meetings. All this was achieved only by simple voice command. No typing on a cumbersome laptop, fatal typos and wrong email addresses. So hassle-free. Compared to composing emails for the same purpose, she could amazingly save more than 9 hours! That means you can actually be efficient and get more work done. Beast!

Results of AI may not be quite elegant and literary but they do compose and collect substantial points of information. And readers will eventually find them still readable and informative. No big problem whatsoever.

But that is email and hard news.

I still don’t believe that AI can match human’s ability and knack for writing a beautiful, touching, emotionally provocative, literary work.

Machines are machines.

They do have memories, and intelligence, and consistency.

Humans are humans.

We may not be lacking in the consistency department but I bet we excel more at the creativity aspect. We have imagination. Something an ultimate machine can never learn.

And when we’re now too absorbed with writing cheesy click baits, ‘trivial’ and technical content for the web traffic or page views, we’ll soon lose the competition. Our web is more about “how-to”, and less about “why”.

Why do we need to know and learn THIS instead of THAT? That’s the big question.

And this philosophical, profound question can never be answered by machines.

 

Sources:

Sciencedaily.com

https://emerj.com/ai-sector-overviews/ai-for-speech-recognition/

https://thenextweb.com/contributors/2017/05/19/artificial-intelligence-will-impact-professional-writing/

https://www.wired.com/2017/02/robots-wrote-this-story/

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