Will AI put copywriters out of business?

Sabina Heggie - Will AI put copywriters out of business

Artificial intelligence programs and apps are making big inroads into human society.

AI is particularly likely to affect those of us on the creative spectrum.

Artists are already complaining that their work is being repurposed by AI without their permission.

While AI promises to free people up from repetitive tasks, economists agree that even if it doesn’t put us out of work, it will at least drastically change the way our work is done.

I recently tried out an AI language program called ChatGP, a machine learning model, and I asked it whether AI would put copywriters out of work. This is what it said:

“It is possible that AI could automate some aspects of copywriting and make certain tasks more efficient, but it is unlikely to completely replace the role of human copywriters. While AI can generate basic text, it may not have the same level of creativity, nuance, and understanding of human emotions that a human copywriter possesses. Additionally, AI-generated text may not be as effective in resonating with audiences as text written by a human. Therefore, AI may augment the role of copywriters rather than replace it.”

Ok, not terrible but not reassuring either.

What about medical writers?

As most of my work is in the medical field, I asked the AI program about whether AI would put medical writers out of business, and it said:

“AI has the potential to automate certain tasks related to medical writing, such as data analysis and literature reviews. However, it is unlikely that AI will completely replace the role of human medical writers. While AI can be trained to understand medical jargon and generate text, it may not have the same level of understanding of the nuances of a disease or the ability to communicate complex medical information in a clear and effective manner as a human medical writer. Additionally, the regulations and guidelines for medical writing are very strict, and it is likely that human oversight and approval will still be required. Therefore, AI may augment the role of medical writers rather than replace it.”

You’ll notice that both answers end with the same reassuring words: “…augment rather than replace…”

Just because an AI program says it won’t replace us, doesn’t mean it’s true of course, so I asked it about a subject I know quite a bit about, to see if I could trip it up.

I asked: Why do older people have more problems sleeping?

The program replied:

“Older people may have more problems sleeping for a variety of reasons. Some potential factors include changes in circadian rhythms, an increased likelihood of medical conditions that can affect sleep, and the use of medications that can disrupt sleep. Additionally, ageing is associated with changes in the body’s production of melatonin, a hormone that helps regulate sleep, which can make it more difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep.”

And that, based on the clinical research I’ve seen, is 100% correct.

But, as any medical writer knows, your copy needs to be referenced to a reliable source, so I asked the program to tell me what source/s it used to generate the copy. It replied with:

“I am a machine learning model and I generate text based on the patterns and information I have learned from the large dataset I was trained on. I don’t have the capability to recall or access the specific sources I used to generate a response. However, I can tell you that my training data consists of a diverse set of texts, including books, articles, websites, and more. This training data covers a wide range of topics, including health, medicine, and sleep.”

Hmm, so this is unlikely to satisfy the medical directors at client companies who want to see a peer-reviewed clinical study to back up every statement in a medical writer’s copy. Not to mention, that the copy must comply with local regulations, something AI admits it can’t do (yet). Phew!

I continued by asking it to write me some copy for a variety of non-medical products and it came back with seemingly accurate and well-written responses, but they were notably lacking in emotion (the magic ingredient in effective copywriting) like this one when I asked:

I asked AI: What is so good about the Volvo XC40?

“The Volvo XC40 is a compact luxury SUV that is known for its stylish design, high-quality materials, and advanced features. Some of the key features that make the XC40 a popular choice among buyers include:

    • Safety: The XC40 is equipped with a wide range of advanced safety features, including automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning, and a rear-view camera. It also has a 5-star safety rating from Euro NCAP.
    • Comfort and Convenience: The XC40 has a spacious and well-appointed cabin with comfortable seats and a variety of convenient features, such as a panoramic sunroof, a large touch screen infotainment system and a hands-free tailgate.
    • Performance: The XC40 is available with a variety of engine options, including a powerful turbocharged four-cylinder engine that provides brisk acceleration and smooth power delivery.
    • Fuel Efficiency: The XC40 comes with a hybrid or rechargeable hybrid version which helps to reduce the overall consumption of fuel.
    • Stylish design: The XC40 has a sleek and modern design that sets it apart from other SUVs in its class. It has a sporty and rugged look that appeals to a wide range of buyers.

Overall, the Volvo XC40 is a well-rounded and versatile SUV that offers a great combination of style, performance, comfort, and safety.”

Sounds a bit like what Mr Spock or Data would write, yes?

I could keep going down the AI rabbit hole all day, but work calls and I fear it’s only a matter of time before AI can learn to supply references, follow regulations and write with human emotions, to the point where my job is completely obsolete. So I’d better get on with it!

Try ChatGP for yourself. It’s still in beta and a bit glitchy but free to use for now.

Let me know your thoughts about whether you think AI is going to be a threat or an asset to copywriters and other creatives.

Image by iuriimotov on Freepik.


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