Can writers be replaced by Artificial Intelligence?

Be afraid. Be very afraid.

Stand aside fellow writer as a machine does your work.

This is highly possible, and as early as 2018, if writings on the power and glory of Artificial Intelligence (AI) is anything to go by.

Machines, I learn, are exceptionally good at writing articles or producing a variety of written formats, of a rigorously patterned or metricated nature.

Numbers, repetitions, rise and fall sequences, are excellent material for the machine writer. And it’s able to produce at volumes that would no doubt sleigh even the most accomplished and fluent wordsmith.

Digital Media writes on 3 April 2016, “Research by Oxford University has predicted that journalism is among the jobs least likely to be replaced by a machine in the near future.”

We breathe a sigh of relief. But only momentarily…

“And yet, as Columbia University prepares to celebrate 100 years of the Pulitzer prize, intelligent robots will publish financial reports, sports commentaries, clickbait and myriad other articles formerly the preserve of trained journalists.”

‘“A machine will win a Pulitzer one day,” predicts Kris Hammond from Narrative Science, a company that specialises in “natural language generation. We can tell the stories hidden in data.”’ – Digital Media

PR20/20 in its article of 6 December 2016 explained: “Natural language generation (NLG) is an AI technology that takes structured data and turns it into text. How the data is translated depends on how the system’s creators code its translation rules. In other words, you “teach” a NLG system the relationships between data points.

The Associated Press, it says, works with Automated Insights to “teach” the system each rule for successfully translating financial data into a text-based earnings report that can easily be mistaken for one written by a human.

Another website writes that AI is something to get excited about. “It presents the possibility of intelligent machines that have cognitive abilities or sentient qualities which can self-improve,” according to Trucourse writing on 28 March 2016.

The article asserts that writers, who in the past may have felt a measure of safety working in the knowledge economy, may well be displaced.

“The creation of a new AI that can convincingly write political speeches suggests that human-machine collaboration may be the way of the future. Researchers from the University of Massachusetts have created Artificial Intelligence software that they’ve trained using over 4,000 political speech segments.

One such software Wriber promotes itself saying,” Wriber can check for everything from tone and readability, to style guides and keyword density. Teams find better ways to write more insightful and engaging content while staying on-brand with Wriber as their editor.”

Then it’s to be expected that with similar technology, “The resulting speech was surprisingly good, it was convincing and could elicit an audience reaction.”

Trucourse suggests,” The are the subtleties of spin that only a talented writer is capable of. Machines that overtake writers are not expected soon yet.

We have iRobot vacuum cleaners, spatially-aware flying drones, chess programs, which are rudimentary forms of AI that behave in response to how they’re programmed to behave. They don’t have any generalised analytical ability. They do not learn beyond what they’re programmed to learn.

These types of outputs are devoid of critical thinking, understanding, or emotion

Thus, the thinking goes, writers should jump on to the collaborative band wagon and rejoice unreservedly at the assistance that these robotic writers can deliver. Let them plough through data rich texts, algorithmic codes, and instructed word formations.

Let us, the soon to be dismissed writers, tinker with the drudge of these datarised reports by adding colour, emotion, sway and intellectual propositioning.

If nothing else, we must remain thought leaders and concept originators for the very fact that we can think beyond a pre-programmed instruction or series of matchable code and independently conclude.

-comments and feedback welcome…

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