Digital marketing is stressful. Marketers are already relying on various tools and technologies to automate repetitive tasks like social media sharing, generating SEO reports, and email outreach campaigns.

Things went a step further when the possibilities of artificial intelligence taking over content writing and marketing came into the picture. As any marketer would be aware, content marketing is a core aspect of digital marketing.

Digital marketing is based on content.

Anybody who is in the field of content or digital marketing can be naturally intrigued by the possibility of machines eating up the jobs of human writers. Is the threat real?

We’ll discuss this in this article.

What if you wake up someday and find that the creation of content has suddenly become the responsibility of a machine and not a human?  It is important to find an answer to this burning question especially when marketers and writers are so much worried about their jobs, budgets, and strategies in the wake of increasing automation.

This speculation was fueled recently by none other than Gartner, an American research and advisory firm, which predicted that 20% of all the business content will be produced by machines by the year 2018. However, they also added that it is applicable to formal documents, reports, white papers, press releases, and other formal business content. It clearly meant that it didn’t apply to creative writing, where human emotions, critical thinking, analysis, and creativity are needed.

To find the truth, I decided to dig deeper. I used Google search and came across an interesting article by Sujan Patel on Content Marketing Institute.

Businesses are adopting artificial intelligence.

There is no doubt that businesses are adopting artificial intelligence globally to automate their regular functions. An increasing number of businesses are using artificial intelligence to meet the growing demand for optimised content and the increasing cost of sourcing quality content. The use of artificial intelligence and big data technologies rose from 59% in 2015 to 95% in 2016, according to Forbes. Artificial intelligence technologies include predictive analytics, automated reporting and communications, voice recognition and response, and big data.

Artificial intelligence is applicable to the repetitive, manual and boring jobs. It is quite natural as humans cannot fulfill the demand of producing high volumes of such data, where a high level of accuracy, repetition, and data-entry is required.

In fact, there are very few such industries where artificial intelligence is threatening job losses. According to McKinsey Quarterly, the threat of job redundancy due to automation is quite low at least in the next decade. However, almost all jobs are going to be affected in varying degrees depending on the nature of the job.

The jobs that require human touch such as psychotherapy, managerial and leadership roles will be least affected due to automation, according to an Oxford Martin document.

Content creation that requires original ideas and creative thinking is less likely to be at risk due to writing robots.

Can you imagine a machine generating content with great ideas and content that can be consumed by the conscious consumer? Don’t be confused by the fact that machines are already writing the content and they are smart at that as well.

Business content is an example and Gartner is quite right about that. While producing business reports, all you need is a smart template that can accommodate streams of data in it. Human creativity is not involved here.

Natural Language Generation

Natural Language Generation (NLG) is the stream of AI that is responsible for producing coherent and logical content. NLG is a software program that can churn out readable text with matching data. Structured data is fed into a predefined template that smartly produces logical prose that is human-friendly and the results are astounding.

Let’s have a look at this news item published in the Los Angeles Times:Capture

How does that sound? Can you believe that this piece of news was written by an NLG based software program and not a journalist?

On March 17th, 2014, a mild tremor occurred in Los Angeles area at dawn. Within three minutes, the above news item appeared on the website of Los Angeles Times. It should be noted that no journalist was present in the newsroom that time.

This text was published without any human intervention and completely by the robots, which retrieved seismic data from USGS servers, converted this data into figures and immediately sent it to the PC of the journalist, who is also a computer programmer. He had created an algorithm to create news items for such occasions.

Once the data was received by the AI program, it fed the relevant information into a template that was based on everyday English. The journalist was asleep at the time, he woke up to the notification beeps, read the “article” create by robots and clicked on the “send” button. Human intervention was not needed there and the next time, such “news items” will directly go to the website of Los Angeles Times.

This event caught the attention of media all over the United States and people started debating whether robots will completely replace human beings in future. Some started panicking especially because the economy is not in a decent shape these days. The media and business houses are slowly installing these robot writers, wherever large volumes of content are required. These robots vary in terms of sophistication and functionalities.

The content created by the robots lacks something and that is human touch and a discernible soul. But that is obvious, as it is created by a machine and not a human. The same thing is applicable for the finance sector, where a lot of reporting is done that doesn’t require any creative thought.

Sports news is no exception and a naive person will not be able to differentiate between the text created by a robot and a human. Let’s compare the content created by a journalist and a software program according to different attributes:

Capture[Courtesy: Content Marketing Institute]

As you can see, the human written content has an edge over computer generated content in two categories – first, it’s pleasant to read and second, it’s less boring. The computer can’t handle the nuances of the language and it doesn’t have a critical vision.

Ray Kurzweil, Google’s director of engineering predicts that computers will be smarter than human race by 2029. That means they will be able to comprehend our language, crack jokes, learn from experience, and share stories like humans.

Ray Kurzweil is no ordinary man. In 1990, he had predicted that by 1998, a software program will be able to defeat the world chess champion. In fact, that happened in 1997 – one year prior to the predicted time.

However, even if robots start learning by experience and understanding human language, they will still be dependent on the data to be fed by humans. Whether robots will be able to compose creative content or not or whether their content can be distinguished from human-produced content only future can tell. However, it is for certain that they will not be able to replace human beings, who are likely to assume more authoritative and administrative roles.

Sujan Patel adds that in case robots are able to match human intelligence, emotions, and temperament, there would be much bigger things to worry about than the replacement of content creators and digital marketers, and growing disappearance of jobs.

Endnote

It is safe to conclude that digital marketing is in a state of flux. Only time will tell whether it will be overpowered by artificial intelligence or not.

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