AI not quite ready to replace professional writing just yet
There is a growing hype about a new AI (artificial intelligence) writing program, which shall remain nameless, that is creating extensive conversations among students, parents, colleagues, family and friends.
The way this new app has been trending is a marketer’s dream. It’s also another in a long line of trendy topics and apps that isn’t quite as good as it seems.
There are some interesting drawbacks that professional writers and experienced media personalities have noticed that eliminate the app’s positive characteristics.
I read a post that featured AI writing on the What’s Happening in Huntsville FB group. While there were some good parts, upon closer inspection I found factual errors nestled among the accurate areas. One specific mistake was that according to the AI story, Huntsville has tours of wineries.
We don’t have any winery tours in our town, so multiple winery tours are obviously non-existent. However, we do have maple tours and horse and wagon rides, and there is a winery tour in Bala (but, that’s between 60 and 80 km away depending on your location).
A colleague of mine recently had the program write 500 words about things to do in Muskoka. While some of the piece was decent enough, there were several errors including using names of events and places that didn’t exist.
According to the app, the Muskoka Conservation Authority (yeah, we don’t know what that is either – however, we do have a Muskoka Conservancy) maintains several trails for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing (they don’t actually do that). To see what the Conservancy does do, visit: https://www.muskokaconservancy.org/
Also, the program discussed some winter events that either don’t exist, didn’t have the proper names, or once took place but no longer occur. The story also indicated downhill ski runs at Deerhurst Resort (we all know this to be false) and listed two dogsledding businesses that can’t be found (at least not through any legitimate search).
The AI story also claimed that Scandinave Spa is in Muskoka. Having personally written several of their articles for Dockside Magazine, I’m 100% certain they are based in Blue Mountain. Click the highlight to learn more about Scandinave Spa.
We did this a few more times with different subject matters and word counts. Each time, there were hidden and obvious factual errors that could lead to bad situations for those who rely solely on the AI and not their own wit.
Another issue I’ve found with AI writing and grammar apps is the lack of a personal voice; there isn’t any nuance, style or flow to the words. There is plenty of proper sentence structure, but no creativity or originality.
In the stories I’ve read that were created by A.I. apps, I’ve found myself strikingly familiar with some of the exact phrases being used – especially in descriptive manners.
Likely, these apps are taking info from across the web and using what they find in their stories.
Unfortunately, this also brings us to a point where the risk of plagiarism is very real.
I’m not going to pretend I haven’t used the word “picturesque” to describe Huntsville or Muskoka, but when an exact sentence is almost word for word one that I’ve read before, we’re on the precipice of impropriety.
Unlike when I called out an old colleague for using my go-to lede (yes, we professional writers have toolboxes of sorts), I can’t go after a computer program. However, I can go after the person using that program to write their brochures, articles, and essays.
This new app is certainly interesting, and I can see its usefulness in certain settings for quick notes on a certain topic – but just be sure to perform an extensive combing through with a staunch editor’s eye.
That means double checking every fact, ensuring that at least some attempt at originality occurred, fixing style, and adding your own voice.
Eventually the AI apps will be able to fix their issues, but for now it’s still best to work yourself or hire a professional writer to do it for you.
Or go ahead and see what generic, semi-factual writing will do for you.