I recently mentioned to someone that I worked as a copywriter, and I was quite startled by his response. He asked me “Aren’t you copywriters worried that AI is about to take over your jobs?”
Artificial intelligence has become startlingly more intelligent over recent years, and machines have become exceptionally good at mimicking human language and creating engaging content. But can AI actually make writers obsolete?
Whatever our feelings, we writers have to accept that AI is here to stay. Instead of fighting (or ignoring) AI we have to pin down where our real value lies going forward. We have to adapt, and even dare I say it, make use of AI tools.
It’s my belief that if we’re to succeed we need to be the guardians and curators of AI – not its enemy.
AI is absolutely getting more intelligent
Natural language processing (NLP), machine learning and deep learning technology are coming on in leaps and bounds, and AI can create written content that’s becoming difficult to distinguish from human-written content. It can write emails, product descriptions, social media posts, and even newsworthy articles in the blink of an eye. Predictions around the imminent death of the human copywriter maybe aren’t so over-exaggerated.
For starters there’s ChatGPT.
If you haven’t heard about this AI-powered writing generator then where have you been? And of course I’ve checked it out. I asked ChatGPT to “Write an article on will AI make copywriters redundant?”
The results were impressive to say the least. The generator wrote a solid 530 word article on AI and its impact on copywriting. Yes, the tone’s a bit monosyllabic, and the structure more like a college essay than a high quality article, but there were no grammatical errors and the syntax was spot on.
The backlash – is it justified?
I’ve read quite a few posts on social media recently by copywriters that are obviously frightened out of their skin about AI, hysterically calling out copywriters that use it as “hacks”, “frauds,” and “unable to come up with original ideas”.
The thing is they’re not really getting the point. Actually a tool like ChatGPT can be really helpful in terms of coming up with outlines and ideas. And it has the potential to take over many mundane tasks traditionally done by copywriters. Being fearful of new technology is nothing new but just as the luddites rebellion against future technology could never win – neither is the battle against AI destined to succeed.
Can AI ever replace human copywriting?
Do I think AI can ever replace quality human copywriting? Maybe – but not at the moment.
There are still big limitations on what AI can do. AI isn’t that good at understanding human emotions or cultural nuances, and these are essential requirements of well written, converting copy. AI also lacks creativity and critical thinking skills – the skills necessary to develop a unique brand voice.
Copywriting is more about stringing words together so they make sense, it’s about empathising with an audience and understanding their pain points. Good copywriters have the required insights and can identify what makes a brand or product unique. AI relies on patterns and data instead, which can make the writing generic or formulaic.
Copywriters can adapt to changing market conditions, and write timely and relevant copy in response to real-time events, while AI needs to be programmed and trained, and this takes time.
AI needs human input to work effectively
To be a good copywriter you need empathy, creativity, and a deep understanding of your target audience. These are difficult things to replace with AI technology. Copywriting is also a collaborative process, and we human writers can provide valuable insights and offer feedback, to make sure the final product is fit for purpose.
AI can be an aid to copywriting
Some writers say they use ChatGPT to help them create outlines, or to give them some inspiration. Others use it to help them create a first draft, then add a company’s unique voice.
Human copywriters can work alongside AI to result in content that’s better than either AI alone or humans could produce.
It’s unlikely that AI will make copywriters redundant any time soon. Copywriting is a complex undertaking that requires a balanced skill set of creativity, human emotions and cultural understanding. As copywriters we need to embrace this powerful new technology and make sure our skills stay relevant.
And – as an extra piece of reassurance we’re not going out of fashion just yet – I’ve recently noticed a caveat some of my bigger clients are adding to their briefs, specifying that they want “human generated content”. They’ve already worked out that this is the type of content that is working best for them in search results.
Eventually maybe we’ll all be replaced by AI – from doctors and lawyers, to bus drivers and teachers – perhaps robots will be superior to us in all ways. But there’s still a way to go.
This is a discussion all copywriters should be having. If you feel differently about things please add a comment here – or visit my website at www.your creative copywriter.co.uk. I’m also on Linkedin.