by Nadia Sotnikova
As someone working at an indie publishing agency, reading about robots that write news articles is terrifying and exciting at the same time. I am not a writer; I am a marketer, so the prospect of another major shakedown of the publishing industry makes me hope if not for a better future, then at least for something new. New challenges, new opportunities.
This morning we had our weekly, company-wide conference call where we discuss what’s happening with our company and the world around it. As usual, I did some research before the call and stumbled upon an article about writing-robots. When I shared it, I swear I could hear terror on the other side of the line, despite everyone trying to play it cool. Maybe it’s just my imagination, but still, as a writer, how would you feel?
Chances are all of us have already read an article written by robots, and we couldn’t even tell the difference. The programs writing these articles are getting more and more sophisticated and will most likely replace simple writing such as weather reports and sports updates. But what happens when these programs become smarter?
Technology Makes Us More Human
Self-checkout at stores and self-checkin at airports. Turbotax, Squarespace and Wix. Software is replacing jobs. Or is it? Actually, the amount of jobs is declining very slowly. Despite us having great alternatives to hiring someone to do a job, we still hire people. Why? I believe it’s because people adapt and learn to offer extra value, something robots can’t provide.
Robots will force us to become more human and bring more personality into the services we offer. Just like in any healthy competitive market, competing with robots will improve the quality of the work we do.
How will it affect writers, and freelance writers in particular? Writing-machines will do us a favor and push us to become more creative. It’s time to learn how to write engaging, humorous, unique, and thought-provoking pieces because even if robots ever learn creative writing, it won’t happen any time soon. Probably not in our lifetime, or not ever.
How To Survive In The Age Of Robot Writers
Develop your creative writing skills
Make yourself irreplaceable. If you have been writing simple news articles, and that makes up the bulk of your orders as a freelance writer, in the future computers can easily take over your job. Creative writing is a whole different story. It’s unlikely that computers will be able to produce a book, a witty essay, or a beautifully crafted article that reflects your experience and your worldview.
Have an opinion
Computers can’t take sides, but you can. Not all writing calls for your personal opinion, but if it does, computer can’t replace human analytical skills.
Have a style
Chances are computers will be able to mimic existing writing styles because, to some extent, it’s already possible with more complex data algorithms. However, all a computer can do is mimic or mix what already exists. You can make yourself stand out from the crowd of writers (or computers) by having your own original writing style.
Use robots to your advantage
It’s highly unlikely that robots will replace writers, but they can replace some routine tasks that writers need to perform. If analyzing data, doing research, and drafting dry data-driven pieces can all be done with the help of a computer, then why not let it do its job and spend more time on the more creative and fun aspects of writing?
Just like most technological advances, robots’ ability to write will certainly affect the publishing industry and change the way we do things. We can adapt and use the new technology to our advantage. Whether you are a large publisher or a freelance writer, writing software can help you become more efficient and push you to explore your more creative side.
Guest post contributed by Nadia Sotnikova at the Blooming Twig. The Blooming Twig is an independent, boutique publishing house that supports the adventurous tastes of its readership.
I really appreciated that you argued both sides of the article. Pros and cons and (bonus) solutions to combat the possibility of being replaced by a robot. Your article was succinct and yes, a tad scary to think about since I aim to be a published author one day, but at least it got me thinking. Nicely done and well written.
LikeLiked by 1 person
I find this scary, we have 7 billion people on this planet and we do not need competition from a robot, plus where is the heart and soul of it? For dry boring data info I guess it would be ok, but please draw the line somewhere, please.
LikeLiked by 2 people
Reblogged this on Kim's Author Support Blog.
Ugh, I’m so sick of hearing about robots. Face it; they’re taking over.
In an essay George Orwell predicted the end of stories and fiction, the novel and tales, in 1946.
From what I understand from programmers, computers and robots are only as smart as we make them (at least until AI and Skynet come to kill us all). So, with our dunce-hat wearing media, I’m not terribly worried about robot-writers sounding more intelligent there. They’ve got the worst to work with…ugh.
Wow. I write about machines. Maybe they’re already chang – stupid human! quiet! go to bed! – whoa, it’s late! Later, all!
The only real gripe I have is that the “simple, boring” stuff that’s usually used as filler helps supplement my income from time to time when I’ve desperately needed the extra cash to cover a bill or emergencies. A lot of the type of content that would be taken over by robots/programs, you know that dry and boring stuff, will eliminate the need for people like me and writing mills entirely. While writing mills are woefully underpaying writers, it’s still an avenue for down and out writers to make ends meet. Many times the entire reason the content is simple and dry is down to the client wanting a specific thing, and often times they just want generic and boring junk. If you give it too much flair and personal touch, often times it gets sent back for a re-write.
This really puts people like me in a bad position as prospects start drying up and clients turn to something they probably only have to pay a one time fee or yearly license for rather than payment for each individual article and blog blurb. I know it’s a long ways off before it becomes the norm, but it’s still a scary thought nonetheless.
I just finished re-reading 1984 where, in this dystopian view, all books were written by robots.
No. Please. Say it isn’t so!! Bad enough a robot voice narrates dumb entertainment stories on YouTube videos and slide shows. Terrible!
Great article. Reblogging on Jean’s Writing. Love it.
Thanks for sharing!
Reblogged this on WILDsound Writing and Film Festival Review.