Don’t Use AI To Write Articles

A few sentences of copy were entered, and bam— an AI “writer” completed coherent paragraphs on a video call as my fellow founders and entepreneurs watched in amazement. We were all blown away. The tech is impressive, but should you use AI to write articles? If you want to connect to others and evoke an emotional reaction, the answer is no.

First, let’s clear the air. I’m a vocal advocate of AI and automation; I believe tech will create jobs and prosperity. I’ve spoken with some of today’s leaders of AI and automation, including Matanya Horowitz of AMP Robotics and Sean Chou of Catalytic. I have also held my opposing viewpoint in interviews with now Senator John Hickenlooper and Presidential candidate, Andrew Yang. AI is amazing, but it also has its limits. One of those limits is writing copy.

The case against using AI to write copy.

Consider AI, or artificial intelligence, isn’t truly artificial intelligence—at least not yet. AI recognizes patterns and is capable of repeating those patterns with incredible accuracy. AI is great for helping with grammar, spelling, and other formulaic tasks. For any task that’s repeatable in nature, it’s perfect. Great writing, however, isn’t repeatable.

AI bots have incredibly large databases of phrases. To oversimplify, they identify writing samples from the internet, look for a potential match in the keywords and structure you use, and perform what is basically an elegant copy/paste job from existing work. If you’re using an AI to write, you’re basically copying your competition. You’re average. You may not even think this is that big of a deal because we’re surrounded by dry writing every day.

Using AI to write articles is a utilitarian view of human communication, but so is much of the writing on the web today. Many content marketers are focusing on quantity over quality, so it makes sense how we’ve come to this point. It’s understandable why AI writing, at first glance, may seem like a great alternative.

AI writing is acceptable because bad writing is everywhere.

Most of us have become accustomed to the massive amounts of poor writing across the web. Struggling to keep up with the content war, companies have been writing junk content for years. Digital marketing teams have favored SEO-writing, or writing for computers, to get high rank, instead of writing for humans to improve their life. This distinction is really important.

You’ve seen what this crappy writing looks like in the form of 10-paragraph blog posts that pop up when you search for a simple query like “how to make toast.” (Seriously, go search it. This 4662-word post is one of the top results.) Why would someone write that much crap for such a simple search query? Because Google (a computer) likes it. Search engines favor long and typically poorly-written content. This means, when we see AI writing jump into the scene, it doesn’t look any different. Hopefully, search engines realize long crappy content isn’t helpful content in the future.

This is why using AI to write articles is remarkable for most people. Like lukewarm water, it feels fairly, well… normal. Normal, that is, until we experience a hot steam shower or a soak in the hot tub with essential oils. That’s an experience, and experiences change minds and hearts. Experiences inspire action. AI writing is good, from a technology standpoint, but in the words of Jim Collins, “Good is the enemy of great. And that is one of the key reasons why we have so little that becomes great.”

Using AI to write articles means you’re a part of the pack. It means you’re barely recognizable from everyone else. If that’s your goal… Mmmk. But do you want to outsell your competition, change habits, or inspire action? Write it yourself or hire a great writer.

AI can’t produce original writing

Great writing is capable of cutting through the noise, getting to the heart of what truly matters to people. Superior writers are able to parse sentences in a meaningful way and convince an audience to act, change their mind, cry, make a buying decision, or rise up against unjust systems.

Great writers understand culture, history, and context. They understand when to use humor as a tool and when to avoid it. Great writers understand the nuance of breaking news, but also, how to be sensitive. They understand when to break grammatical and spelling rules to drive home a point. 

Great writers, great artists, and great companies are only able to disrupt other companies because those companies settle. If you’re using an AI to write copy to connect to humans, you’re settling. And yes, your human audience absolutely picks up on this. When I asked The Hustle founder, Sam Parr, how to grow an email list, he quickly credited their human-first writing style. “Staying out of the bullshit filter” is one of his 4 tips to quickly getting over two million subscribers. AI writing however, ensures you get caught in the bullshit filter.

Should we use AI to write copy? The final verdict.

Should you use AI to write articles? If you’re my competition, my answer is a resounding yes. Please use AI writing tools to your heart’s delight (here’s one). But if you want to change the world, make meaningful impact, disrupt an industry, or change hearts and minds, then using AI to write content and copy for your company is outward confirmation to your customer that you’re a robot just like everyone else.

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