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Will AI Replace Content Writers? The Truth Beckons

Since ChatGPT emerged, a dark cloud forebodingly loomed over the writing industry. From writing poetry to churning out how-to guides, ChatGPT has seemingly bested human writers in speed, syntax, and relevance. 

Hence, ChatGPT poses an existential question for content writers – is AI finally taking over our jobs?

Like many disruptive technologies, chaos and confusion followed in the early days, discouraging news like a freelance copywriter who lost her job to AI sent shockwaves throughout the industry. 

Yet, is AI the foe that content writers should fear? Or are there ways we can use AI to our advantage? Without understanding AI, you can’t plan for what’s coming. 

In this article, you’ll learn what generative AI is, what it can do, what its limits are, and, more importantly, how to future-proof your writing career. 

What is AI exactly? 

Artificial intelligence is the broad term that describes computer systems that mimic humans when making decisions. AI existed long before ChatGPT was even developed. 

For example, Grammarly is an AI-powered software that writers use to spell-check and proofread their work. So are tools like SurferSEO, which uses natural language processing to identify keywords important for an article to rank. 

Writers, knowingly or not, have co-existed with AI peacefully for years. So, why the sudden outcry when ChatGPT entered the scene?

It’s important to make the distinction that AI, in general, is not restricted to powerful conversational chatbots like ChatGPT. AI, however, is the foundation of generative AI, the technology that ChatGPT runs on.

So, what is Generative AI? 

Can ai replace writers - AI vs generative AI
Generative AI as a subset of AI. (Source : Wikipedia Commons)

Generative AI is a special AI technology that runs on many layers of neural networks. The neural network is a series of software algorithms designed to mimic the human brain. 

In the AI community, the neural network is commonly called a machine learning model. Machine learning models can make simple decisions like humans, such as determining if words like ‘good’ and ‘bad’ carry positive or negative emotions. To do that, scientists must train the model with curated information.

The problem is – machine learning models cannot process too many words simultaneously. It takes too much time and computing power to train machine learning algorithms to develop advanced language understanding. 

But that changed when scientists discovered the transformer architecture. The transformer is a machine learning model with many layers of neural networks and can process many different pieces of information at once.

Generative AI describes a system that uses transformer architecture to learn from extensive information to produce unique content.  And ChatGPT is the most popular generative AI application known to content writers. It uses the GPT model to converse in ways like humans do. 

How does Generative AI work? 

I will not bore you with technical explanations of how generative AI works. If you wish to, you can find it here. 

Rather, I’ll describe generative AI in ways non-technical writers can understand.

Learn

AI models like GPT lacked language capability when they were first developed. It cannot answer questions, write essays, or do mathematics. To do that, engineers pre-train, train, or fine-tune the AI algorithm with lots of information many times. 

Remember

Once trained, the generative AI model remembers what it has learned. For example, the generative pre-trained transformer (GPT) developed exceptional natural language understanding after training with 45 terabytes of data. 

During training, the AI model can develop an understanding of grammar, semantic relationships, and other linguistic patterns. Scientists can also train language models to understand and write text in different languages. 

Apply 

When properly trained, a generative AI model can use its knowledge to respond to queries. If you ask the AI algorithm to write an explainer, it will. The same goes for requesting the AI to write jokes, FAQs, comparisons, and forms of writing. 

At a glance, it seems that generative AI is sentient, but what it actually does is try to complete the query by finding sequences of words that make grammatical, semantic, and syntactic sense. 

What can generative AI do that threatens content writers? 

To call generative AI a breakthrough is an understatement. Generative AI is huge and brings transformational changes we have never seen in decades.

So, let’s explore what ChatGPT and other generative AI writing tools can do. And whether they are indeed a threat to content writers.

AI can write blogs

This article is 100% written by human – me. Yet, AI writing tools like Jasper can produce similar articles in just a few clicks. All you need to do is provide Jasper with the key points, and it’ll produce a well-structured article.

If that’s not worrying enough, you can also direct generative AI writers to write in a specific style, structure, and tone. For example, I can ask ChatGPT to write in ways a 10-year-old can understand. 

can ai replace writers - style variation
AI can write in different styles.

It can rewrite and summarize content

Sometimes, to write a blog, you must read through articles, white papers, or research that others wrote. For example, you’re tasked with a topic that you’re not familiar with, such as blockchain integration, which you spend hours understanding and rewriting in your own words. 

Generative AI has the upper hand because it can do what you did in seconds. As a large language model, generative AI is exceptionally good at extracting and summarizing text from documents. AI tools like Smodin also have a rewriter, where you can rewrite the entire article from a URL or uploaded document. 

It has flawless grammar

Not all content writers have impeccable grammar. Like some writers, I use tools like Grammarly to proofread my work. Even with that, some grammar mistakes might slip through our published work. And with clients demanding articles with no grammar mistakes, we face a tough time perfecting our content.

ChatGPT and other generative AI models are trained to be grammatically flawless. Fundamentally, they are machines capable of stringing words together while abiding by every linguistic rule. 

So, if grammar is not your strong point, you might feel threatened by ChatGPT and the like. 

It’s super fast

How long does it take for you to write 500 words of content? 30 minutes or more? Well, AI writing tools do that in seconds. 

I must admit that human writers can’t match AI’s pace in writing content. Some businesses are turning to AI because they need to put out content quickly with generally-acceptable quality.

Like it or not, content writers are on a losing game if they cannot produce quality on par with AI. And we can’t fault business owners in markets that don’t appreciate the commercial value of written copies. Or when they’re on a tight budget. 

Understanding the limits of generative AI

Now, ChatGPT and other generative AI tools might seem perfect, but they’re not. And some shortcomings that generative AI faces (at the moment) mean not all hope is lost for content writers.

AI might hallucinate

can AI replace writers- might hallucinate
Public disclaimer that AI might produce inaccurate results.

Generative AI algorithms are trained on a massive amount of knowledge. But massive doesn’t necessarily mean complete.

When AI models stumble on questions they don’t have an answer to, they might respond with inaccurate but plausible information. Data scientists call the phenomenon model hallucination.

OpenAI, Google, and other AI companies are aware of this limitation and publicly disclaimed that these models might produce inaccurate responses. Even when linked to a search engine, like Bing Chat, AI might not always produce accurate results. 

Several lawyers were rudely surprised when the legal research they did with ChatGPT turned out to contain fake cases. They were fined $5,000 by the court.  

So, avoid using AI for research or to fact-check your article. 

It cannot tell personal stories 

Good content requires personalized stories or examples, particularly if you’re writing SEO-optimized content. 

For example, if you write a review on a headphone, adding your actual experience using the product adds credibility to the story.

AI, unfortunately, cannot inject your story because it was trained on publicly available information. 

As long as you’re not writing drab, soulless, and monotonous content, there is still demand that you can fill in the writing space. 

It has limited creativity

AI is useful when writing generic topics but still needs a human touch to create compelling articles. 

At best, generative AI can produce several versions of writeups based on linguistic patterns it learns from text data. 

While they suffice for some business use cases, AI-generated text has yet to match the impeccable storytelling skills demonstrated by world-class writers. 

As mentioned, generative AI is a machine that produces content based on what it has learned. It can’t replicate the emotions that humans feel when writing content. 

Can AI replace article and content writers? 

Yes and no.

Yes. Because AI tools like ChatGPT, Jasper, and Writefull will replace writers who produce mediocre or below-par quality articles.

If you’re struggling with grammar, content build-up, style, emotion, and other nuanced aspects of writing, it’s time to brush up your skills. 

Writers are also at risk if they serve clients who don’t see value in good content. To aggravate that, generative AI can produce content at a pace that humans can’t.

That said, writers who can overcome the limits of generative AI will still be in demand.

For example,

  • Writing technical subjects that AI has little or no knowledge about.
  • Writing reviews, comparisons, or how-to guides that require personal stories.
  • Writing landing pages, homepages, or marketing copies that tap into readers’ emotions for commercial outcomes.
  • Writing in an engaging and varied style that AI cannot replicate. 
  • Writing research-driven articles where factual accuracy is a top priority. 

What should you do if AI is taking over your writing job? 

Some of us saw a drop in job opportunities because of AI. Others might have been knocked out of the game because clients prefer tools that can churn out articles at a lesser cost.

The harsh reality is that one of us is safe from AI.

As generative AI continues to evolve, it might overcome existing limits and threaten writers who are now spared from the disruption.

Rather than denying the implications of AI, it is better to understand what we are facing and strategize our next move.

Personally, I believe that we’re entering, or already entered, an era where mastery of a single skill is no longer enough. 

Instead, develop a second (or third) skill to augment your value as a content writer.

For example,

  • Learn SEO to write articles that rank on search engines and directly impact the client’s financial outcomes. 
  • Explore technical subjects, such as AI itself, so you can write topics that AI couldn’t. 
  • Expand your service horizontally. Instead of merely writing articles, consider developing the entire website, brand visuals, and marketing strategy by partnering with other talents. 

How do you level the playing field with AI?

You’ll fight a losing battle if you perceive AI as a foe. Businesses of all sizes will incrementally automate specific tasks with AI.

At present, AI has yet to fully replace content writers, but we can’t be sure if that remains true in the coming days.

Rather than denying or disregarding AI, it’s wiser for writers to find ways to secure or future-proof their careers by leveraging the technology.

For example, you can use AI to produce blog drafts for affiliate marketing websites, which you later edit to include your personal stories. This way, you can create a secondary income stream that grows over time.

Or, you can start a content marketing agency that uses AI to plan content strategies and streamline repetitive tasks. You can use AI to research, outline, and create SEO-optimized articles, which Google will rank as long as they are high quality. 

With uncertainties ahead, solely relying on writing for a steady income is unwise.

Final thoughts

AI, or generative AI specifically, will disrupt the content writing industry in one way or another. Some of us might find jobs harder to come by because we’re serving clients who prefer the speed and automation that AI provides.

Others, who are still paid for their service, must continuously upskill to remain relevant and offer values that AI can’t. 

Most importantly, embrace, learn, and understand AI. Because writers who leverage AI to add more value will replace those who don’t.

Is AI threatening your writing career? What’s your plan to adopt or leverage AI to remain competitive?

Share your thoughts in the comment below. 

Author

  • Kenny Lee

    I'm an engineer-turned-writer who helps tech businesses increase online visibility with SEO-optimized content.

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