AI for Writing: Extend Your Mind, Keep Your Voice
In my previous post, I reflected on new opportunities that the rise of AI brings to developers. Today, I want to explore another area that is undergoing sweeping change — writing.
With the rise of AI, which is often seen by outsiders (and some writers) as a replacement for human writing, it’s time to take some good recipes from writer’s cookbooks and apply them to the role of AI in writing. Although the analogy is not direct, I believe it can show a constructive direction for the possible use of AI that would not do harm but bring real benefits to human writing.
But first, let’s consider a question. Is using AI something that would genuinely benefit your writing?
Traps of Irresponsible AI Use
At the time of writing, there are already a dozen WordPress plugins offering AI “autowriting,” totaling about 40K installs. This number seems small compared to the vast ocean of some 600 million blogs in existence worldwide as of 2023. However, this number can grow exponentially, as WordPress powers about 40% of the Internet, and AI has only been on the mass market for a few months.
Autowriting can supply sellers with unlimited texts at almost no cost, thus raising competition to new, unprecedented levels. Remember the tale of the magic pot able to endlessly produce food until the owner says the magic word to stop it? In the AI tale currently unfolding before our eyes, nobody knows that magic word. In a matter of years, culture is threatened to sink into endless repetition of itself with no value added.
The problem of limited human attention span cannot be solved by AI, so one of the major side effects of the AI advent will be an increasingly fierce fight for the consumer’s attention.
“AI Autotext” is, to me, clearly and undoubtedly a marketing and ethical mistake. The author’s responsibility is to keep the cultural space clean from pollution and create real cultural value, and, after all, it’s definitely in their own best interest.
The second major issue with AI writing is of a qualitative character. The point is, AI has no voice.
Voice is a special term in the writing world that denotes the writer’s unique and powerful way of expression, making the reader resonate, actually listen to, and hear the author.
Texts written by AI are smooth but somewhat lackluster. The more important the role the text is assigned, the more important its voice aspect becomes. Therefore, writing texts that you want to have an impact cannot be entrusted to AI alone.
Another potential issue we cannot ignore is plagiarism. By taking the text offered by AI as is, the author not only fails to create cultural value but also uses others’ work without crediting them.
Finally, we should not forget that AI can occasionally produce outright wrong factual information.
That said, my point of view is that the value AI can bring to your writing can be very significant if used wisely. Let me show why.
Harnessing AI to Improve Your Writing
So what can AI accomplish really well?
— Propose text outline
— Write drafts of parts of the text, e.g. summaries
— Propose variants for the article’s title and subheadings.
— Answer “right” questions in the process of writing
Examples of questions to ask:
— Give me some feedback on text style and tonality
— Does the text cover the theme sufficiently?
— Give me the text’s summary in 10, 25, 50 words.
— Say this paragraph using diffrent words
— Which text fragments could be confusing for the reader?
— Translate the text into another language (e.g. the second language you speak)
— Rewrite the text using a vocabulary suitable for a 14-year-old
— What could be a good metaphoric picture illustrating the post as a whole?
— Describe a series of images related to the text as you read it
Don’t give away your voice in exchange for an emotionless text, however smooth. Make your text more powerful instead, using the omniscience of the AI to refine and highlight your uniqueness. In the end, there’s little sense in producing texts that have no power. So let AI do the best it can, and do your part equally well!