Welcome to The Copy Shop!
The Copy Shop is Copywriter Exchange’s monthly blog series written by our community members with the goal of sharing advice and insider tips with like-minded copywriters around the globe.
This month’s entry is by Dan Collins.
Dan Collins is a freelance writer and editor with experience in cybersecurity and tech-related fields.
The Copy Shop: Why AI Will Empower Writers, Not Replace Them
We commonly conflate the terms artificial intelligence and sentience. Despite the hype, AI tools like ChatGPT are far from sentient, and demystifying these technologies is the first step toward applying them to our work.
Many are concerned that AI will render human creativity obsolete, but AI-powered tools like ChatGPT can actually empower creatives—especially writers. Once we demystify the technology, it’s easy to understand how AI will empower writers to create ideas, generate copy, and revise their work.
Understanding How AI Tools Like ChatGPT Work
ChatGPT is an AI-powered tool that uses natural language processing (NLP) and large language models (LLMs) to generate text. The former enables the AI to understand our requests, and the latter leverages predictive algorithms to generate responses—i.e., to determine the next word or phrase in any given sequence.
For example, we asked OpenAI’s “davinci” model to “Write five different completions for the following sentence: Mary wanted an apple, so she drove to the ___________.”
We also asked the application to display the likelihood of each response. These are the results:
- Grocery store (77%)
- Farmer’s market (62%)
- Orchard (55%)
- Convenience store (29%)
- Apple store (3%)
The model grammatically deconstructed the first clause—Mary (subject), wanted (predicate), an apple (direct object)—and attempted to complete the second clause, where Mary (subject) drove (predicate) somewhere (unknown direct object) to find an apple. Where? Mostly likely the grocery store. However, the AI calculated a 3% likelihood that Mary may want a different kind of apple.
Using AI Text-Completion for Ideation and Copy Generation
AI tools like OpenAI’s text-completion models can be used for a variety of tasks related to ideation and copy generation. Here are some of the ways that writers have already implemented AI into their toolkits:
- Topics and titles: AI can be used to generate topics and titles for articles, blog posts, and other types of content.
- Meta content: meta content like descriptions and tags help writers create optimized content and increase visibility.
- Outlines: generated outlines help writers organize ideas and prime the AI for content generation.
- Copywriting: AI can create or supplement content, giving writers a nudge forward when they’re feeling stuck.
Why AI Won’t Replace Copywriters Any Time Soon
Vladimir Nabokov once said, “My pencils outlast their erasers.” Tools like ChatGPT can help writers generate text quickly, but they can’t replace the need for revision.
Computers are never wrong; they do exactly what they’ve been programmed to do. When AI tools like ChatGPT don’t have an answer, they’re trained to create one—even if it’s wrong.
When Google unveiled its Bard chatbot, the AI inaccurately claimed that the James Webb telescope discovered exoplanets. Google shares subsequently dropped by $100 billion. Google’s misstep underscores the limitation of AI to validate itself—and the need for writers to fact-check their copy, regardless of who or what writes it.
In 1946, George Orwell wrote, “…modern writing at its worst does not consist in picking out words for the sake of their meaning…It consists in gumming together long strips of words which have already been set in order by someone else, and making the results presentable by sheer humbug.”
Copywriting is more than just generating text; it’s also about choosing the right words to convey a message—your client’s message.
AI-powered tools can splice together “long strips of words,” but they can’t replace the creativity and specificity necessary to establish a brand. Copywriters choose the perfect words to convey a message in a way that AI-powered tools can’t.
AI is the Garden, and You are the Gardener
The AI is a garden, and the copywriter is the gardener who plants the seeds, pulls the weeds, and reaps the harvest. AI tools like ChatGPT can help writers generate text faster, but the quality of the text depends on the writer’s input and revision.
AI tools require large sets of human-written text to analyze requests and generate responses. It’s paradoxical to assume that an AI can rely on its own writing to push the boundaries of language and prose. These tools will always require human counterparts with extensive knowledge of vocabulary, grammar, and market insight to create meaningful copy.
By leveraging AI technologies to brainstorm ideas, generate copy, and refine our messaging, writers will continue to inspire AI well into the future.
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