Is the writing profession doomed?

October 17th, 2017 by Bob Bly

We recently saw War of the Planet of the Apes, where intelligent
apes take over as the dominant species of our planet.

Well, it’s happening … only instead of apes taking over, it’s
smartphones and laptops!

According to an article in ClickZ, Gartner predicts that by 2018,
20% of all business content will be written by machine.

In July 2017, Google invested over $800,000 in the Press
Association’s initiative to generate news stories solely through
the use of AI.

The frightening future for writers is that AI machines may make
us totally obsolete by doing our jobs as well or better than we
can — and for a lot less money.

And it’s not just writers whose jobs are in danger of vanishing.
It’s a much bigger portion of the working world.

In his book The Rise of the Robots, Martin Ford reprints a
perfectly adequate sports article and reveals it was written
entirely by computer — without the touch of a human hand. It’s
not spectacular, but it’s certainly competent B-level sports
writing.

Swedish programmer Sverker Johansson built an AI writing
algorithm that has authored nearly 3 million articles now posted
on Wikipedia.

And it’s not just writers who are in danger of losing their jobs
to a computer.

In China, human customer service representatives who handle live
chatbot calls are now being replaced by algorithms.

[x]cube, a maker of automated chatbots, says that 34% of
businesses surveyed believe that half of all customer service
calls could be handled by robot chatbots without a human agent.

Elon Musk believes that by 2030 to 2040 computers will be able to
do anything a human can do.

It makes me wonder why Musk, Google, the Chinese AI chatbot
maker, and other clever tech entrepreneurs are so darn eager to
put billions of human beings permanently out of work.

Years ago, I had this debate with AN, an old college friend.

AN gave the party line about automation and robotics “freeing”
people from dull, repetitive jobs so they can do more rewarding
and creative work.

What AN and others miss is this: there are a number of people who
don’t have the skills or ability or drive to work at a higher
level than the “dull, repetitive” jobs they hold now.

So when you “free” them from their current boring jobs, you move
them into permanent and boring unemployment.

For instance, in the early 1960s, as a kid my mom would take me
to visit my dad at work.

His building in downtown Paterson, NJ, the city where we lived,
had a manual elevator run by Joe, a friendly elevator operator
who was always nice to me, because he liked kids.

One day mom and I went to visit dad, and Joe was gone.

“Where’s Joe?” I asked.

She pointed to the self-service buttons labeled G and 1-5 on
the control panel of the new shiny automatic elevator that had
replaced the creaky old manual — and eliminated Joe’s job.

“What’s Joe going to do?” I asked.

She shrugged.

So I still think about what happened to Joe. He was older, and I
suspect he had trouble finding another job, if he was able to at
all.

And I also think about what will happen to us in 2040 if Musk is
right.

And he probably will be, even if his date comes a little sooner
or a little later.

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This entry was posted on Tuesday, October 17th, 2017 at 11:52 am and is filed under General, Writing. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

18 responses about “Is the writing profession doomed?”

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  2. kettyberry said:

    This is a truth that Artifical Intelligence busy in replacing human activity in every field.In this era science getting progress and new introducing new invention day by day this will be a good sign.But in many ways, it’s getting worse for a human being because if these robots replace human being so where people go? I’m against it because of many writers and editors who work hard in Assignment Help UK they sacrifice their social life, nights, holidays just to get the title of writers and provide assistance to the students.In this way, science is engaged to ruin careers of writers.

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  4. Robbie said:

    So it’s that Swedish dude Sverker Johansson that’s (partly) responsible for Wikipedia/Wikimedia needing all those admins and sysadmins to keep it clean. Or just put a notice up telling visitors “This article has multiple issues”. I don’t think a writer’s work will be done by AI fully – ever.

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