Clive Weatherley, Mobas’ Head of Copy, argues why using AI is the perfect way to show your customers how little you care.
News channels have had several field days over recent months, reporting on a new phenomenon that’s sure to be welcomed by some but that strikes horror into others. The AI chatbot has arrived, in an army of varieties, all ready to offer up their artificial ‘intelligence’ to replace yours.
There’s no denying that the technology is remarkable. If you’ve been living in a cave, I’m talking about the slew of apps and programs that just about every social media feed has been heralding as some kind of copywriting messiah for our age. With a few prompts from the user, these automated authors can, it’s claimed, dash off any number of pages of text – as essays, articles, reports, social posts, in fact almost any format you can name.
At first sight, the results spewed out synthetically do seem impressive. Sentences make sense and are grammatical, with syntax often more complex than you might expect. Spelling and punctuation, although invariably American, is correct. And subject-wise, everything you want covered is often done so with authority, backed up by facts and figures that are hard to dispute. It’s been reported that at least one university professor has admitted he would have given a good grade to an assignment secretly birthed by a bot – which is alarming for so many reasons, and maybe says as much about him as it does about the AI.
But look again and you realise just how disappointing the cyber-copy is. It’s bland, facile, repetitive, unstructured, shallow and – perhaps most importantly for a writer such as myself – has no voice, no personality and no uniqueness. A bot can’t play with language. It can’t make a reader smile. It can’t construct an argument, or cleverly wind a thread through half a dozen paragraphs to culminate in that final ’bang’.
All it can do is sift through billions of pages of online content; sniff out anything that links to what you, the user, has requested; and paste it together into some kind of grammatically okay but ultimately vacuous Franken-text. Its greatest skill seems to be producing results while avoiding any copyright issues – a bit like that student at uni who was much better at plagiarising than anyone else. Without blowing my own copywriter’s trumpet, it certainly couldn’t write any of what you’ve just read in the previous five paragraphs.
So is it all bad news? No. If you want to produce an informative article but are too lazy or time-poor to do the research yourself, use a bot – but if you’ve any self-respect you’ll want to heavily rewrite the results. If you want to paper a site with square metres of text which no-one will read but which contains useful search terms, use a bot. And if you’re a student with a professor who cares as little about your education as you do, use a bot.
But if you know, as I do, that good, engaging, well-crafted and considered copy is so much more than a pile of words on a page, you’ll give bots the boot and stick with intelligence that’s real and human rather than the artificial variety.