The Next Generation of Bloggers Is Here. And They Are Computers

June 16, 2015

bot writing

The writing bots are here.

  • Computer scientists in Finland have created an algorithm that can programmatically create better rap lyrics than actual rappers.
  • The site bot or not challenges to you choose whether a poem was created by a human or an algorithm.
  • Nearly 10 percent of the articles on Wikipedia were not written by humans.
  • Last year the L.A. Times was the first newspaper to publish a breaking news story written by a computer. One company projects that by 2030, 90 percent of the news will be written by bots.

While this news is generally under the business radar and may only merit a mention on Buzzfeed or E! at this point, the message is loud and clear: Computers can write, and often, they can write better than humans.

The field of Natural Language Processing is progressing quickly and we’re near the point where the success of “bot-writers” will have profound implications for marketers. Here are a few:

An army of Don Drapers

For any marketing initiative, there are trillions of possible ways to convey just the right message. So what is the very process humans have? Brainstorming? Even huge teams of humans can’t think of fraction of all the best possibilities.

Using artificial intelligence, we will be able to analyze huge volumes of data and compare concepts with statistical ideals to develop beautiful writing quickly and at almost no cost. There is software out there doing this right now and in the coming months we’ll start to see it creep into mainstream content production.

While some will certainly say that algorithms won’t produce the human soul in great creative writing, I’m not so sure. Examples I’ve seen writing samples indistinguishable from human writing. And it will get better fast.

The promise of automated content is having an enormous new source of creativity at our fingertips. I’m a big fan of Mad Men and would delight when Don Draper would finally get the breakthrough idea. I can’t wait to see the amazing ideas ahead when the Draper algorithm is available!

The REAL Content Shock

I had a university professor who joked that “tsunami” was a Japanese word that meant “where did all that water come from?”

We may very well look up from our desks a year from now and see that Content Shock — the overwhelming information density in a business niche — is simply overpowering any attempt to stay ahead. Where did all that content come from?

If your competitor turns to automated content generation and then you do the same thing, it simply escalates an unwinnable arms race, doesn’t it? How will Google and other search algorithms handle this? Will any writing serve their needs?

Everything optimized

We already have WordPress plug-ins that will suggest better headlines and copy. Soon, we will be able to quickly and accurately optimize everything for our readers and customers — a headline, an email subject line, a tweet. It will make our work nearly effortless and incredibly effective.

Bot Content and the human niche

There is a growing trend toward “organic” and “authentic” in almost any product category. I even go to a gas station that promotes “100% gasoline” because some people don’t even want chemicals in their chemicals I suppose. Bot-content is not going to fly for everybody.

One way to differentiate in the future might very well be “100 percent human content served here.”

Writing bots. And now the rest of the story

Since I was a young boy, I have been a writer. I started writing for the local newspaper when I was 16 years old. I won awards and scholarships for my writing in high school. When I was 20, I was news editor for my daily college newspaper and publisher of an alternative campus journal. I have written nearly 2,000 blog posts and five books. I am in the East Tennessee Writers Hall of Fame, along with Cormac McCarthy (my favorite writer), Alex Haley and Quentin Tarantino.

So my life is deeply invested in writing — Human writing. On an emotional level, this trend makes me rather sick to my stomach. But from a professional perspective, I am going to have to deal with this like everyone else.

In business we simply cannot work with what we wish for. We must work with what IS. The bots are here. Welcome, to my mechanical brethren.

Illustration courtesy Flickr CC and Justin Aerni

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