AI and copywriting: where are we?
Will copywriters ever be replaced by machines?
Experts in computer science and artificial intelligence make incredible progress every day. Therefore, many people are now wondering how long they have before their jobs get replaced by machines.
In the field of copywriting and content localisation, the question is particularly relevant. But if you’re picturing a Terminator-like robot typing on a computer keyboard, stop right now. The goal of this article is to separate facts from (science) fiction and to give you a clear idea of what AI copywriting looks like in 2020.
What’s artificial intelligence?
The term “artificial intelligence” refers to two different things. It’s a branch of computer science, a field of research founded in 1956, and it’s also “the ability of a digital computer to perform tasks commonly associated with intelligent beings”.
Nowadays, AI has become a marketing buzzword and is sometimes used incorrectly, just for the sake of selling software and tools that have more to do with automation than artificial intelligence.
While AI programs are commonly used in many industries, artificial intelligence like the robots we see in films doesn’t exist yet. For some scientists, the goal of AI is to create machines able to simulate the cognitive functions of the human mind, able to learn and solve any kind of problems. This concept is called “strong AI” – and might never become a reality.
On the other hand, “weak” or “narrow AI” is already present in our everyday life. We’re surrounded by tools, programs and systems powered by artificial intelligence and limited to one narrow area such as playing chess or driving a car.
Machine learning and natural language processing
Natural language processing is a field of artificial intelligence, combining linguistics and computer science. Its goal is to enable machines to read, interpret and process human language. We might forget this but, before a computer can write, it needs to be able to understand a language and its nuances, and that starts with machine learning.
A program can “write” without being powered by AI. For example, old basic chat bots that were just following a script were able to answer users’ questions without being intelligent.
With machine learning, computer systems can automatically learn new things and improve their ability to complete tasks without needing to be programmed to do so. In other words, machines are “taught” by being given a lot of data to analyse and, from there, they determine statistical patterns and “learn”.
This technology is already widely used in fields such as image, text and speech recognition, spam filters, product recommendation when shopping online and many more. The use of machine learning also explains why computers have been making huge progress recently regarding content writing and translation.
Where are we now?
In the field of machine translation, new tools and systems are launched almost every day, and some are really good. Computer systems are getting better and better at translating content, whether it’s a text or a speech. One of the most recent examples is Facebook’s multilingual machine translation model, introduced in October 2020 and able to translate 100 languages without relying on English.
Since computers can now be fluent in almost all languages, they can help us improve our writing skills. Whether it’s a simple spell check or tools that can suggest different ways to rephrase a sentence, writing assistants are using artificial intelligence to improve their accuracy and efficiency. Nowadays, you can even use AI-powered tools to help you stick to your tone of voice. Writing flawless copy is now very easy with the help of machines, and we have to admit that machines are becoming better than humans when it comes to spelling, grammar and punctuation.
Machines powered by AI are not only used for translations and correcting grammar mistakes. They also generate all kinds of content including novels, news articles and blogs. It’s important to note that we’re talking here about “generating” content rather than “writing” it. Depending on the topic or the requested keywords, most of these computer systems simply gather existing pieces of information and rephrase them to create a new text.
So… Should we be worried?
The short answer is no.
As mentioned earlier, artificial intelligence has become a marketing buzzword. If people are interested in content created by AI, it’s still mainly out of curiosity. “Written by AI” can’t be a valid argument if everyone uses machines to write content. Also, most AI-written copy is still reviewed and edited by human copywriters.
Artificial intelligence will continue to develop and be more and more present in our lives, but it doesn’t mean it’s going to replace us. For copywriters, the use of AI-powered tools is likely to change the nature of the job. The focus will be less on perfect grammar, more on creativity and style – things that machines can’t do.
Creativity and empathy are essential in copywriting. The goal of content marketing is to trigger emotions, and that’s something machines don’t get. Even the best narrow AI will never have any common sense, nor a sense of humour. Machines can tell jokes, but they simply don’t understand them. For now – and probably forever – AI is only as good as its human input.
In the next decades, copywriting jobs will change and evolve thanks to machines. The amazing abilities of computer systems will continue to improve. But brands will always need to rely on copywriters for their content marketing, to add this little “je-ne-sais-quoi” that only humans have.
At Cam’s Writing, we find AI fascinating. We’re as devoted as a T-800, we’ve more sass than Pepper, much more chill than Tay… And we promise we’ll never try to take over the world.
So if you have any project involving AI and content marketing, give us a shout!