Do Articles Written by AI Harm Human Writers?
According to a report by the World Economic Forum, automation and AI will displace around 85 million jobs by 2025, with media being one of the most affected sectors.
The sudden emergence of scores of AI copywriting tools has prompted writers and editors to question their job security and to reconsider the future of the content industry as a whole. When it comes to writing as a career, in particular, there's an ongoing debate about the impact of AI-generated content on human writers. While some argue that free AI content generation tools can give writers back time and resources for more complex and nuanced reporting, others worry that it could eventually lead to a devaluation of human creativity.
While AI adoption in newsrooms and marketing departments raises real concerns about the stability of content careers, people in these sectors aren't unified in their opinions about artificial intelligence. Some writers and editors are already embracing these tools—and singing their praises. Others see the excitement about AI writing tools among VPs and executives as a harbinger of layoffs to come. Who's right? Who knows. Let's take a look at what people are saying.
Why AI Might Actually Be Good for Writers
The future of content careers is murky at best, but there are some experts who believe that it can actually be beneficial for writers. Their claims usually hinge on the idea that AI writing assistants can increase efficiency and productivity by automating certain steps in the writing process. Writers, the thinking goes, can use prompt engineering to generate outlines and conduct research, freeing them to focus on the more creative aspects of the work.
AI can also help writers generate fresh ideas and overcome writers' block. Tools like ChatGPT can suggest new story angles or topics content creators may not have thought of on their own. This can be especially useful for anyone working on a tight deadline or struggling to come up with new ideas for an organization's marcomm strategy.
“You can either take a sort of apocalyptic view: AI is going to put professional writers out of a job, it's all doom and gloom and AI is going to take over,” Mike Sharples, professor of Educational Technology at the Open University in the UK, told Euronews Next. “Or you can take the glass-half-full approach, which is that there are some amazing tools that are coming. As writers, we can make good use of them and as teachers, we can make good use of them”.
Some are even more optimistic. Stanford's Erik Brynjolfsson, for example, told CBS News that AI will lead to "potentially the best decade of flourishing of creativity that we've ever had, because a whole bunch of people, lots more people than before, are going to be able to contribute to our collective art and science."
Why AI Will Probably Be Bad for Writers
"Over the past few months, new advancements in A.I. have made it clear that writers, illustrators, photographers, journalists, and novelists could soon be driven from the workforce and replaced by high-tech player pianos," Nick Bilton wrote last year in Vanity Fair, and more and more people agree with him.
Julia McCoy called AI writing "dangerous" on Content Hacker, pointing out that content isn't just king—it's the foundation of the entire digital marketing landscape. She has a point. Articles by humans are the bread and butter of SEO, and artificial intelligence can churn them out at least 12 times faster than a human at a fraction of the cost. Not at the same level of quality, obviously, but passably with the intervention of a human editor. This is particularly dismaying when you look at freelance writing rates in marketing, which are already often laughably low (think $10 per article). There's a good chance artificial intelligence integration in content marketing will drive down freelance rates even lower.
What's Certain Is That Artificial Intelligence Is Here to Stay
A quick look at the major gig work sites shows that a lot of organizations are already looking for contract writers who know how to use AI writing tools such as CopyAI to create more content more quickly. Those organizations are likely using freelancers to test the water. If their experiments with AI generated content are successful, chances are that we'll start seeing more job listings for roles like prompt engineer and AI content manager.
Employers who prioritize scaling output over anything else (e.g., low-paying SEO content providers like Verblio) will no doubt go all-in on AI copywriting and let the majority of their writers go. Others will prioritize good writing and do what it takes to retain talent.
Circling back to the question posed in the headline, articles written by AI probably will harm human writers—at least those writers who don't get ahead of the coming changes. AI ethics is a hot topic of conversation, but what employers care most about is the bottom line. How much AI-written articles harm YOU will depend on how you approach this latest disruption. If you want to keep making money as a writer, you'll almost certainly need to be willing to learn to work with AI writing tools.