Don’t trust this article, it’s biased.
It wasn’t created using AI writing software, it was penned by the competition instead.
By that, I mean a professional human writer who takes pride in his craft. One who, it should be mentioned, obviously has a vested interest in convincing you why AI writing software is bad for your business.
This article explains how placing your trust in AI writing tools opens the floodgates to false information, litigation and public relations meltdowns.
It explains exactly how AI-generated content can damage your business, confuse or alienate your customers and cause massive damage to your company’s goodwill.
Can You Trust AI?
Imagine hiring an employee that cost the company $100 billion on their first day.
Did I just shove AI under the bus to save my own ass? Course I did.
That’s basic human instinct at its finest.
No amount of machine learning and raw processing power can compete with that.
AI has no survival instincts. No sales instincts, no common sense. It is merely software with no instincts of any kind.
It’s a gormless dead-eyed plastic action figure sitting in a real person’s chair.
Pull its string and hear it speak, but it’s not actually saying anything. It’s just emitting words. Words that were fed to it during the manufacturing process.
And after a while that starts to get really repetitive because…
1. AI Writing Software Lacks Clarity
Content created by AI software won’t sound natural because, of course, it isn’t – it’s 100% artificial.
Google might not be always able to tell the difference (at least not yet) but humans can. Although the reader might not be able to put their finger on it, their instincts will tell them something’s wrong.
Sure the words might all fit together but some sentences or phrases just sound off.
That’s because AI writing software tends to just generate sentences on the fly, without any specific goal or objective in mind.
So don’t expect much cogency or cohesion from AI-generated content. If you have a point you need to make, you’re better off making it yourself, because…
2. AI Writing Software Lacks Nuance
Much like the self-service checkouts at your local grocery store, AI writing software needs constant human babysitting.
Unlike human writers, who can work to a brief and adhere to brand guidelines, AI writing software has difficulty sticking to the script and can fluctuate wildly in terms of tone and style.
Which means it needs to be constantly micromanaged, costing you time and money.
AI writing software systems were not designed for serious writing, but rather to quickly churn out generic blog content.
So most of what it outputs has that same chirpy, sing-along sensibility even when you specifically tell it to write “formal”.
Problem is, all businesses, regardless of industry, require a set level of formality. And being too casual and familiar can appear unprofessional which can be damaging to your company’s trust and reputation.
3. AI Writing Software Lacks Structure
Ever listen to a child tell a story? They do so with the exuberance of a person living entirely in the moment but without any forethought.
Start, middle and end – these are all fluid points in time, as the story goes off on tangents, “Oh yes and then this happened and then that happened and then…”
AI writing software goes off the rails in similar ways.
It struggles to stay on message, stick to the point and often vomits out paragraphs of needless filler.
Content like this has no place on a company website. It won’t inform, it won’t engage and it certainly won’t convert.
There are many different forms of business writing; such as copywriting, technical writing or UX writing.
While these disciplines may differ in many ways, form, clarity and structure are of equal importance to all three.
Only by following best practices can you ensure that the facts are being presented properly.
But then facts aren’t all that important to AI writing software because…
4. AI Writing Software Lacks Accuracy
AI writing software products are essentially funnel-fed enormous chunks of content from the web, in all its unfiltered glory.
True or false, right or wrong – AI writing software doesn’t make those judgements, it just parrots back content based on what it’s learned and what it thinks you want to hear.
Results can vary wildly.
We’re talking about an underlying software system which was force-fed on fake news, toxic internet trolls, flaky influencers, fringe conspiracies and cat memes.
Countless terabytes of the stuff all through one digital funnel, then we wonder why it coughs up nonsense.
I’m not saying that AI writing software can’t speed up the content creation process but the rule of thumb is that you should always, always ALWAYS fact-check everything it outputs to ensure it isn’t repeating false information.
Failure to do so could cause huge damage to your company’s reputation or even result in litigation.
5. AI Writing Software Lacks Objectivity
Pick a topic, make sure it’s a divisive one and then ask an AI writing tool to create content on that topic.
Even though it doesn’t think for itself, it’ll still pick a side.
And it will then happily regurgitate that side’s arguments repeatedly, without ever actually understanding why.
Much like the cat leaving a dead bird on your doorstep, AI writing software “thinks” it’s doing the right thing and giving you what you want because…
6. AI Writing Software Lacks Discernment
Now instead of a controversial topic, let’s pick a nationality and ask your AI writing software about it.
Brace yourself, though, because the results might make you cringe.
Given the great schisms of our age, with our ever-growing culture wars and the rising tide of toxic conspiracy nonsense, arguably the biggest danger of AI writing software is how it’s being used to mass produce hate speech and fake news – even when asked to write product descriptions.
I found this out the hard way when I first started to experiment with AI writing software. I had a piece of content I needed to create for the Irish market and so I thought, let’s see what it comes up with.
The result was a thick bowl of Irish stereotype stew full of shamrocks and leprechauns served up with generous servings of Guinness.
Oh well, we’re used to it.
Having thick skin and being able to laugh at ourselves is a cornerstone of Irish culture. But then that’s because Irish stereotypes are also comparatively benign compared to what many minorities are subjected to on a daily basis.
So why should a software product be treated any differently?
And yes, I know what you’re going to ask me, “what specific AI writing software product were you using when it wrote all that stuff about drunken leprechauns?”
7. AI Writing Software Lacks Common Sense
So why does it do this?
Well, AI Writing software systems work with numbers, not words.
Each new word it learns is mapped to a corresponding value and the software analyses the connections between each of those different values.
Basically, it’s a word lottery, vomiting up words based on probabilities.
You might feel like you’re in control, that you have a system, but it’s a crap shoot. Give it a prompt and roll the dice.
As humans, we don’t need to perform calculations to communicate.
In most cases, we know exactly what words to say and when we don’t, we’re generally astute enough to know when it’s best not to say anything.
(Or worst case, we’re at least self-aware enough to realise what we shouldn’t have said afterwards.)
But you can’t write an algorithm for common sense. So instead AI writing software draws on the collective wisdom of the internet.
You’ve heard of the phrase garbage in garbage out?
Well, you don’t need me to tell you there’s a lot of garbage on the internet – and a considerable chunk of it was used as the raw training material for AI.
And herein lies the fundamental flaw of AI writing software; strip away all the fancy lines of code and clever algorithms and what you’ve got, at its core, is the world’s largest trash compactor.
And even when it’s right, it’s wrong because it can’t make proper judgement calls.
Give a human writer a simple instruction; write a preview for the Qatar World Cup and tell them it’s for a sports website.
Without needing a brief, the writer will probably already know what to focus on; the teams, the players, the fixtures, who are favourites to win, and who the surprise teams may be…
Back in 2021, I gave a similar instruction to a leading AI writing product as a test.
The result was regurgitated Guardian opinion pieces about FIFA corruption, Qatar’s bid for the event, the country’s human rights record and concerns about the well-being of migrant workers.
Were these important topics that cast a dark shadow over the event? Damn right they were.
But did they belong sports website client looking for a World Cup preview article? Course not.
You know this, I know this, any human writer you hire should be astute enough to know this.
But AI doesn’t know anything, it just echoes back without any real context which is why…
8. AI Writing Software Lacks Originality
I should mention in the above example, at least 10% of the content included sentences taken verbatim from Wikipedia.
I’ve seen this happen again and again with a variety of different AI writing tools. They’ll sometimes borrow entire chunks of other people’s text – entire paragraphs even – and pass it off as original content.
This opens the door to all manner of issues from Google duplicate content penalties to potentially expensive copyright litigation.
Some AI writing products have plagiarism detection built in, but not all of them.
Plus plagiarism detectors, such as Copyscape, aren’t great at detecting paraphrasing, something AI writing software does a lot.
Shuffling a few synonyms and jumbling words around might be enough for one piece of software to fool another, but your competitors will see still it as pure copycat content. And that might prompt them to do something about it.
And even if you’ve gone though it line by line and you’re 100% satisfied the content is original, AI writing software content is often so homogenized you may still be left feeling like you’ve read it somewhere before.
AI’s main drawback is that it’s intrinsically bound to old data. It can make some clever predictions and suggestions based on that data, but it can’t do anything new, fresh or spontaneous.
You want your business to stand out, not sound like everyone else.
And for that you need a human, because…
9. AI Writing Software Lacks Empathy
Good writing connects with its readers. And that won’t happen with a machine.
The only way to make a true human connection is to use humans.
AI writing software doesn’t understand the needs of you, your business or your customers.
AI writing software doesn’t understand your products, your customers’ pain points or your company’s main selling points.
It doesn’t understand the art of persuasion, it doesn’t get psychology.
Because it has no intrinsic understanding of humanity.
But the worst part of all is that, unlike you…
10. AI Writing Software Doesn’t Care About Your Business
A machine won’t share your passion.
It doesn’t know the hard work you put in, the grit and determination, the long hours, the level of service you strive to provide and why that matters.
It doesn’t know your customers like you do, it doesn’t know your industry, it hasn’t spent years learning, it has zero experience whatsoever, it’s just autocomplete on steroids.
It doesn’t know your brand’s tone of voice, because it has no voice of its own. It’s simply an electronic parrot.
It doesn’t know your target audience or care, so it writes generic filler, because that’s what it was designed for.
And maybe that’s all you want it for but the problem is…
11. AI Writing Software Won’t Help You Rank
If anything you run the risk of a Google penalty.
Forget about Bard and Google’s own AI history for a moment and look at the history of Google search as a whole.
From all the way back to the days of article spinning and the Panda update, the company has been clear about what it considers to be spammy content.
So imagine you’re using AI. Suddenly you’re churning out content faster than ever before going – this is great! I’m getting more stuff done than ever and no more paying writers!
But then one day there’s a new AI-targeting Panda-style Google algorithm update and your website’s wiped out overnight.
So What Is AI Good For?
Now before I’m waylaid by time traveling robots sent to punish me for my insolence, let me first of all state that I’m not 100% anti-AI.
AI technology certainly has its uses. The problem is that the technology as a whole has been so overhyped in the last year or so that people become confused as to what is and is not possible.
First of all, I’m going to lay odds you’re already using AI software as part of your content marketing initiatives.
Take Grammarly for instance – it’s an excellent AI-based product that serves as a digital proofreader. Is it perfect? No. There’s always the danger that, by following its recommendations too closely, your writing becomes flat, generic (and teeming with unnecessary Oxford commas).
Like any tool you need to know how to use it properly and be mindful of what you’re doing, instead of following its suggestions blindly.
Even if you don’t use Grammarly, you’re still using AI without realising it. Your word processor’s spelling and grammar check, that’s AI. Its text completion function? That’s AI too.
Though I was initially sceptical, I learned to love SurferSEO, which automates competitor analysis and uses natural language processing technology to help writers create content that’s better optimized for search.
So AI tools do have a place in content creation. And they can play a part in idea generation too.
Inspiration can come from anywhere, after all. And if that initial spark comes from a machine, well, what’s wrong with that?
Chat GPT can be a handy tool for coming up with content ideas and a handy fallback for those times when you have writer’s block. Fire it up, roll the dice, see what it comes up with and use that as your jumping-off point.
Jasper can be a versatile sketch pad for generating content outlines, title and meta tags, tweets and social media content generally. I also like its AIDA function, which can be handy for brainstorming product descriptions.
The problem arises when you start relying on AI to generate long-form content. Because the more you do, the greater the chance of things going off the rails, requiring greater levels of human intervention.
This is of particular importance for what Google called your money/your life (YMYL) topics, such as health, finance, politics and social issues, and so on. It should be noted that, if you do publish these types of topics, Google will be scrutinising the quality of your content far more carefully.
So while AI can help with generating ideas beforehand, and checking for mistakes afterwards, relying on AI to actually write your content is problematic since all the time you might save not hiring a human writer will be spent instead proofing the content, fact-checking it, checking its tone, fixing errors, checking it for plagiarism – all of which ends up being far more time-consuming.
So in the end you realise that it would have been more practical, efficient and cost-effective to hire a human writer after all.
“But Of Course You’d Say That.”
Do I have a vested interest in convincing you that human writers are better than AI writers?
Clearly I do. But not for the reasons you think.
It’s because my job is to deliver amazing content that inspires, engages and converts. And AI-generated content is incapable of doing so and that’s unlikely to change any time soon.
Full disclosure, like most people I find this technology equal parts fascinating and disturbing and have disappeared down endless rabbit holes researching it.
If we ever reach the point where I feel that AI writing software can be relied upon the same way a human can, I’ll be the first to sing its praises.
But we’re not there yet.
And we might never get there.
So the lesson is this; AI is a clever and fascinating technology, but one that’s still in its infancy. And like any infant, it requires constant attention, training and supervision.
But you’re not in the babysitting business. You’re in the business business.
And that’s why you’re better of trusting your content to people in the writing business.
There’s No Algorithm For Trust
Imagine hiring a person with zero instincts to handle your marketing communications.
A person completely lacking in social skills, empathy, intuition, discernment and salesmanship.
A person with no intrinsic understanding of your business and your brand who blatantly steals content from your competitors and confidently presents falsehoods as facts.
A person who has to be constantly prompted, micromanaged and monitored to ensure that they don’t say or do anything that might land your company in trouble.
Oh but this person’s really cheap so we’ll save money in the long term.
Not exactly, because everything about them sits squarely in the liability column when what you need are assets.
A good writer is a true asset to your business by helping you convert eyeballs to sales.
If your current writers can’t do this, replacing them with a machine won’t fix the problem.
The problem is you need to stop hiring the wrong writers and start hiring the right ones.