Like almost everything, the concept of Artificial Intelligence (AI) is both good and bad. AI and machine learning is already replacing pesky jobs — like crafting ten different posts about a blog article — yet it could also threaten the livelihoods of editors, journalists, and content writers. Or could it?
AI programs can scan a newspaper’s back issues and by learning the style, it can write feasible news articles from releases.
The Washington Post has a robot reporting program called Heliograf. However, The Post is using their system to not replace journalists, but to assist them and make their jobs easier and faster.Did A Robot Write This? How AI Is Impacting Journalism
Supercomputer IBM’s Watson analysed 9,000 recipes and turned some into a cookbook (as well as having its own meal suggestion app). Imagine doing that manually!
Using Editing Apps
When editing, there are apps that help you check for voice, consistency of spelling, readability, diction, overused words, and lots more. For downloadable end files, you’ll have to pay for the extended program, but it’s just US$45-60 per year.
My one, Pro Writing Aid, allows me to import a Word document and see what the Overview comes up with. It’s also able to highlight whichever grammar peccadillo you want to look at. If it doesn’t crash, it comes up with some suggestions for changing passive voice; however, in some cases the changes suggested were not wanted. Yes, that was an intentional passive sentence!
It did not pick up what I call ‘missing flow words’: some words I like to insert to get sentences to flow from one to another, e.g. yet, in this way, but, although.
Similarly, it doesn’t suggest a topic sentence for a ‘logical’ style paragraph when it really needs one (IMHO). I sometimes attempt to write these topic sentences for the author, so they can then understand what a difference it makes to comprehension.
So, while Pro Writing Aid and Grammarly tools are going to save some quibbling copy edits and pick up inconsistency of UK/US spellings, dashes, quotes, some tautology and similar, these can’t quite ‘read’ and interpret the text how a real editor would.
Style and Purpose of Text: Does AI Help?
While drafting, the writer must decide on the style, purpose, and relevancy to readership of their article or book. The writer may choose to add humour to their writing. Because AI tools that spin out articles have little personality of voice or sense of humour, a human brain will still be needed for that (until they learn a sense of fun).
Future versions of the writing apps may make more sense and use research as well, but I’m not sure that it could inflect the writing with subtle irony, pop culture references, double meanings, sarcasm, or personal observation. In other words, all those things that make a feature story or post worth reading.
Sometimes, the editing apps don’t have a correct sense of where passive voice can’t be changed or where the whole paragraph could read better.
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Our editing service at Power of Words provides professionals and historians nation-wide with suggestions that turn a book from ‘good’, ‘fair’, or ‘a little cluttered’… to great.