Natural language generation… how natural is it?

I had to see AI in action for myself. I used a free online essay-writing bot and I have to say, the results were quite disappointing. The first sentence made little to no sense. The topic I typed in was, “How To Write” and the first sentence from the bot was… “How to make my article at APA style East Country.”

And while there are more sophisticated bots out there, a bot simply cannot think and feel and bring experience and years of skill to the job.

Don’t get me wrong, bots have a useful place. The Associated Press assigned bots to report quarterly earnings back in 2015 and have been able to increase the number of companies that they report on since then due to their AI helpers. After all, quarterly reporting and basic news are about data.

But, writing is not just about data. It’s about expression, as Steven Pool stated for The Guardian: “AI has been the next big thing for so long that it’s easy to assume ‘artificial intelligence’ now exists. It doesn’t, if by ‘intelligence’ we mean what we sometimes encounter in our fellow humans.”

Even if you are writing non-fiction business articles, there needs to be a sense of purpose and story. Not a spewing out of data. The truth is artificial intelligence is, well, not that intelligent.

What a bot puts out with its programming is based on what human writers have already written. There are humans behind the bots.

Want to stay relevant and out-write bots as they get more and more sophisticated? Here’s how:

how to out-write bots: boost your storytelling skills

Learn the art of storytelling.

As a human writer, you can bring a lot of experience to your work. You have your own life and business lessons that get woven into everything you write. You can also interview experts, talk with family and friends and study human behavior.

Readers are drawn into a piece by the story, not the data. Use natural language and create a connection — something bots just cannot do.

how to out-write bots: use a thesaurus

Become friends with a thesaurus.

Bots can choose a phrase that may be grammatically correct but not know that, with some tweaking, a more powerful phrase can be used to create the desired reaction in the reader.

Is that chocolate cookie delicious or is it heavenly? If it’s delicious, I’ll pass. If it’s heavenly, well… let me go get a glass of milk.

how to out-write bots: get analytical about it

Get analytical with it.

Start checking in with yourself as you read a variety of content. Yes, it’s a cliche in psychology but, “How does it make you feel?” When you read a piece and find yourself bored with it, why? Is it spewed-out data lacking in connection and story?

When you find yourself so enjoying a piece of content that you get lost in it, why? Is it because you feel the writer gets you? Because you understand their story and what they’ve been through? Because you can relate?

Hone your skills of storytelling and observation to stay on your A-game and leave those bots to their data banks. Learn, grow, practice is the cycle of relevance.