“The Robots are Coming To Take Our Jobs!”
Fear of having jobs taken by robots (or immigrants, or people of color if we’re being honest) is a fear as old as jobs themselves.
A quick search for the root of this fear leads to results like this wikipedia entry for Technophobia which can trace it’s roots all the way back to a group of weavers destroying machines in 1675.
The fear of robots specifically goes at least “The Brazen Android” a story published in The Atlantic all the way back in 1891.
Whether it’s weavers, or Ford assembly line workers or now sportswriters the fear of robots taking our jobs is nothing new.
For the most part the fear of robots was limited to more manual tasks like assembling Ford F150s.
Companies like Braincorp have created automatic floor sweepers, while the Roomba robot vacuum cleaner has been cleaning homes with questionable effectiveness for over a decade.
Robotic Process Automation or RPA use machine learning to complete tedious paperwork tasks such as compiling documents for signatures or checking for compliance or legal privilege.
But for the most part those who created things (like content) believed that we would be safe from the robot job apocalypse.
Only it appears we were wrong.
First the content creating robots started by writing ads. If you’ve worked in online marketing over the last few years you’ve no doubt discovered programmatic Pay per click (PPC).
Programmatic PPC is an artificially intelligent system that allows you to automatically buy, place and optimize display advertising.
Or in other words the robot buys, places and optimizes the ad for you.
There goes a whole industry of PPC consultants.
In fact it’s been estimated that in 5 years all PPC ads will run, and optimize automatically after the initial setup without any human interface necessary at all.
Which is why Google is actively calling everyone who advertises with them to offer them help with their programmatic system.
I know, I’ve been on 3 of those calls and grilled them for information about their robots which I’ll share in an upcoming article.
Now content creators, bloggers, and video makers have another type of AI to content with as content creating algorithms have begun to slowly trickle onto the market.
The technology being used is
- Natural language generation (NLG) similar to Natural language processing (NLP) this is the task of generating natural language from machine representation systems.
- Intelligent narratives sometimes also called “data driven narratives” which are stories created from the collected data personalized for the audience.
- Automated storytelling technology which is responsible for the first AI created screenplay Sunspring
And this technology is ALREADY being used.
3 companies already using A.I to create content:
- Quill. The most well known NLG software is Quill which was created by the Narrative Science company. Quill started as an experiment at Northwestern and currently produces over 1 million words a day as it creates reports, news stories and headlines for companies such as Groupon, and T.Row Price.
- The Washington Post. It’s no surprise that a paper owned by the World’s Richest Man Jeff Bezos would be on the frontlines of AI created content. The Washington Post has an in house AI content creation system called “Heligraf” which wrote over 850 stories in 2017 alone. Heliograf also composes social media posts, news updates and alerts. Notable events covered by Heliograf include the Rio olympics and local political races in the DMV area.
- The Associated Press. While many people associate the AP with the old world journalism of newsrooms, black coffee and unfiltered cigarettes, they are actually one of the most advanced companies when it comes to content creating AI. The AP uses Automated Insights to take care of it’s oft neglected by humans corporate earnings reports beat. But what really separates the AP from the rest of the pack when it comes to intelligent content creation is with Wordsmith “The World’s First Public Natural Language Generation Platform. Let’s explain because that is a mouthful. Wordsmith works with you to create a story. First you set up rules, a template and and the required datapoints. From there Wordsmith does the rest creating the story. Wordsmith generates over 1.5 Billion Pieces of Content A Year or about half as much as I do. Companies that use Wordsmith include Microsoft and Allstate.
If you like me make your living creating content those last few paragraphs sent a cold shiver down your spine.
But there’s still reason for optimism if you are a content creator!
Why Content Creators shouldn’t panic:
- Emotional Depth. If you look at the reviews for Sunspring the AI created screenplay you’ll see a lot of words like quirky and interesting. That’s because it’s still very difficult for AI to recognize the role that emotions play in making content interesting! Think of a show like “Parenthood” which is basically emotional porn. They crank the 70s music, a mother and son have a universally emotional moment and we all cry. AI has a LONG way to go until it is capable of writing shows like “Parenthood” or it’s evolutionary successor “This is us.”
- Context. In this Post I talk about how the biggest challenge for AI when it comes to language is context. Identifying things like sarcasm, and irony are still difficult for machines to do and are a BIG part of creating content that connects with your audience. Until computer programs can understand something as complicated as the “Aristocrats” joke comedians and other content creators will still be safe
3. Creativity. Last but certainly not least is creativity. Movies like Memento, or Pulp Fiction which bent the way narratives are used can’t be created by AI. AT least not yet. There will always be something to be said for the genius of human creativity that cannot be replicated.
I think about AI with regards to content creation like the famous quote about 500 monkeys at typewriters writing the best novel of all time. Or more accurately like this simpsons clips
While content creation robots are coming, all they are going to do is take the menial content creation jobs. They won’t be writing the World’s best novel or even the most popular blog posts.
If you’re a content creator who just churns out crap, then yes your time is probably coming to an end because the robots can churn out crap faster and cheaper.
But there has always been a market for good writing, entertaining videos and engaging speeches and I think there always will be.