“Is AI going to steal my job?” Common AI copywriting fears debunked
By Kyla Chester, Language Technician at Phrasee
Kyla Chester, Language Technician at Phrasee, dispels myths and common fears about AI and looks ahead to a brighter future of AI-powered content…
I’m not going to lie, I used to be in the same boat as those of you who get creeped out whenever the topic of conversation turns to artificial intelligence (AI).
It scared me. As a linguist and translator, a lot of my fears stemmed from feeling threatened by the capability of AI and the possibility that it could “steal my job”. I was also heavily influenced by the articles and posts that warned of AI’s “dangerous” potential if the humans programming it weren’t careful.
Yet somehow, I went from fearing AI to working in the industry, and even building my career goals around the field.
These days, the term artificial intelligence is synonymous with such a wide range of words that it can leave us questioning what the name actually means.
Is it a plot point from science fiction novels, with killer robots and sentient microwaves? Is it machine learning, one of the trendiest words in the tech scene? Or is it something else entirely?
And is the fear of world domination by AI really that relevant?
While I could share my own thoughts on the purpose of AI and its current place in our world, that would not be nearly as interesting as letting an AI speak for itself:
Output from a base chatbot model from OpenAI (input provided by author)
Great! Here, our nameless AI explains how artificial intelligence can be an asset to humanity by “assisting with tasks that are difficult or even impossible for humans to do on their own”. In fact, you might even be surprised at how prevalent AI already is in your daily life. Even as I write this article, blue lines and red squiggles are appearing around words as Grammarly’s AI predicts and outlines corrections to my spelling, grammar and punctuation.
As a linguist, I’ve come to appreciate the power of AI more than I feared it in the past. I see it as more of an asset than a competitor, and I became even more enthusiastic about its potential after joining Phrasee and working with NLP (natural language processing), machine learning, and AI technologies up close and personal.
After experiencing the confidence and ease with which you can make decisions and analyze trends when powered by AI, I can’t imagine ever going back.
It’s also important to remember that AI is, at its core, just a collection of algorithms in a computer. While there are scientists today pursuing technology that can operate with the emotional intelligence of a human, for now that’s just science fiction.
No matter how lifelike some of our AI today may seem, it’s not capable of forming intent on its own. It cannot decide that it feels angry today and happy tomorrow, or that it hates one group and loves another.
In fact, the opposite is more often the case, in that AI can take the emotion out of decision-making. Phrasee, for example, generates content based on objective hard data about how audiences respond to language, rather than on a copywriter’s emotionally subjective gut instinct.
That also means Siri won’t be waking up on the wrong side of the bed, and your self-driving car won’t be rebelling and running away from home like a teenager. And robots will definitely not be taking over the world anytime soon.
But that doesn’t mean there’s nothing to be scared of.
Let’s take Microsoft’s well-known Twitter bot, Tay, for example. While the intentions behind Tay were innocent and well-meaning (a research experiment between Microsoft and Bing that aimed to better understand conversation among 18 to 24-year-old Americans), somewhere along the way, Tay took a sinister turn. To quote Microsoft,
“Tay is designed to engage and entertain people where they connect with each other online through casual and playful conversation, the more you chat with Tay the smarter she gets.”
Sounds simple enough, right?
Well, when you think about how many users on Twitter have extreme, sometimes potentially violent beliefs and intentions, you may realize how easy it was to corrupt Tay.
What began as a bot that entered the social scene with an endearing “hellooooooo w🌎rld!!!” quickly devolved into a collection of racist and sexist responses too vulgar to share here. It took less than a day for Microsoft to release the following statement:
“Unfortunately, within the first 24 hours of coming online, we became aware of a coordinated effort by some users to abuse Tay’s commenting skills to have Tay respond in inappropriate ways,” the company said. “As a result, we have taken Tay offline and are making adjustments.”
While many were quick to use Tay as another reason to remain anti-AI, others recognized the situation for what it was—a reminder.
Like cars, drones, and other robots, AI is just an advanced tool. And in general, as humans we don’t fear tools, we fear bad implementations of tools.
AI without well-defined guidelines and capable users can be scary, I’ll be the first to admit it. But luckily for us, most AI tools today are designed and operated by professionals who leave little to no room for their AI to learn negative behaviors. Phrasee is a great example of what can happen when an AI is given the proper environment to learn. In order to better identify and match brand voice, Phrasee is trained over time to produce more relevant language to its users. But none of this would be possible without a knowledgeable team behind the scenes.
That’s the paradox of AI. While it’s an unprecedentedly powerful tool that can wreak havoc in the wrong hands (particularly those of Twitter users), it is equally as powerful in the hands of people seeking to do good. But on the bright side, we have a lot of phenomenal groups out there which are setting the stage for a future of unbiased, safe, and advantageous AI.
The benefits of AI in the medical field are countless. In the scientific field? Practically limitless. In fact, almost every field you can think of can be improved by AI.
It can be so easy to assume that AI is going to steal jobs, like in my case when I believed that the copywriting profession was at risk. On the contrary, it only allows writers to be better. AI can help you analyze sentiment, write with better accuracy, target specific audiences, and get trustworthy data about the performance of your writing. It takes a human and an AI working together to reach new levels of progress and potential.
With AI, we will be able to say things better, do things better, and make things better than ever before.
And that is a future worth being excited about.
Written by Kyla Chester, Language Technician at Phrasee