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Robot has pen: the world of AI writing tools

The world is changing for writers as writing bots, easily available on the internet are writing content.

By Yusra Salim |
PUBLISHED December 25, 2022

Did your kid or younger sibling write that college essay that is making you so proud, or a bot did it? Nowadays, it is not just students who have many options to make their life easier by either using software that helps in writing assignments or the vast variety of material available online which can be used in various ways.

Professional writers such as playwrights, novelists and journalists can also get their work done by robots, and perhaps done even better. This is done through Artificial Intelligence (AI) or software available on the net to help write for whatever purpose you need to write, from college essays to news reports to novels.

Increasingly, students have become innovative and are using AI technology to quickly generate ideas, outline a draft, and craft essays with high-quality content that is well-argued and well-written. There are several AI programs marketed to students. A number of essay-generating applications were released in 2021 and many more this year.

AI that generates original text can be both empowering and disruptive for students and higher education at large. Will it hamper their learning abilities and creativity or not?

Nowadays, students have so many options to But the question is that will this software help us or just make us even more dependent on technology. And by being so dependent on technology, are we losing our grip on creativity and just following the herd?

In the last four years, the Pakistani industry has seen a boom in freelance content writing and almost every university-going student has tried their luck writing content to earn some extra money to manage university fees or create disposable income. With these content writing opportunities, the young generation was also introduced to several software which are used to plagiarise and paraphrase the original content.

“I have been working for a content writing company for the last two years where we are given assignments to complete,” shares Iqra Khan. “These assignments are from students in the US or the UK, which we complete for them and we get paid well in comparison to what you can earn at this level in the Pakistani market.”

Khan has a bachelor’s degree from a reputable university, but she couldn’t find a job in her relevant field, so she thought of trying her luck with other options.

“Despite studying for four years, I never knew about this software,” she explains. “But after I started working, I was introduced to several types of software where if I just enter a topic, fully developed essays can be done and there are several applications that help in paraphrasing and even cite proper references as well for research papers,”

Get into Google and type paraphrasing tools, citing tools, and plagiarism checkers and ta…da … dozens of software become available to students. But are these helpful for students or taking them away from the ability to enhance their skills?

Professional slash in writing

AI is taking over not just security or law and order, but just about any area one can think of, “It is becoming a part of everything and it will take over every sector,” says Muhammad Abbas, a software engineer. “But then again it will not completely take over human intervention because even to operate AI, a human is needed.”

Little human involvement

Explaining how human involvement is becoming lesser, Abbas discussed a variety of applications from being able to predict the weather to a mopping machine. Everything is technology based now, but still there is a need for a human to operate such machines. It is similar to writing software, but even if the software writes an essay for you, you do need to provide it with a topic or several links on similar topics to make a document out of it.

Since this branch of computer science known as AI creates techniques, algorithms, and software that enable computers to appear to possess human-like cognitive abilities, almost anyone can now become a writer and earn a living online by producing marketing content, thanks to AI. “As humans, we have to adapt to the technology,” Abbas adds. “But we also have to remember that we are the ones who have made this technology and will always be required to operate it. Yes, it can make lives easier by giving us a variety of writing styles and even a choice of vocabulary that is easy to understand by everyone.”

The new essay

An essay on any topic or subject can be written using AI, and it can be used to produce a college-level essay without too many grammatical or stylistic errors. By having AI generate short and long articles for their website, social media accounts, and/or blog, any business owner or marketing manager can earn money online.

The existence of professional writers is clearly threatened by AI writing, despite the fact that it is still in its infancy and is far from perfect. After all, why would anyone need to hire a real person to do the work if a computer can produce language that is identical to that of a human writer?

The new novel

Not only low-skilled positions like content creation are susceptible to automation by AI, but even highly skilled occupations like journalism and novel writing may one day become automated. In fact, a Japanese business has already created an AI system that is superior to humans at writing novels.

The new newsroom

A similar idea has been gaining popularity in Pakistani media houses, and in the recent years, we have seen conversions of newsrooms under one big umbrella. “The idea which is not very far from reality is formulating news stories from three to four news items and making a new story out of it,” explains Muhammad Asim Siddique, web editor of a private newspaper. “For example, if there is a press conference that three reporters from different channels and newspapers have covered and filed their stories, those stories can be put in the software to make a new fourth story for you.”

The debate over the idea that either journalism is dying or AI will take over writing continues, but the reality is clearly visible that the human angle into the stories and physical presence has lessened in the last few years. “Most organisations don’t want to invest in sending out reporters when they can get live footage from TV and stories from wires,” says Siddique told. “There is even listening software that can translate stories and they only require a little subediting.”

The world is changing, everyone is moving towards automation, saving time, and using their abilities in other aspects. If we don’t keep pace with the fast moving world, we will be left behind which we already are in several aspects.

“I think that adapting to change and technology is the need of the hour and there is no harm in writing software if used wisely, as it is time saving and that time can be used for other constructive ideas,” says Siddique pointing out that one still can’t negate the idea that AI is cutting off many jobs in future and it is here to stay.

By 2025, according to current revenue forecasts, the global AI market will generate close to $126 billion. Editing and proofreading can be done automatically with artificial intelligence. Grammarly and other intelligent proofreading systems can detect overused and difficult terms, highlight spelling errors, and better comprehend context. The fact that AI will produce impartial content is an essential one. It produces all content on a range of themes and in a number of forms, all of which are fact-based. It can search further and more quickly than you can, thanks to the capacity of artificial intelligence to access an infinite number of online resources. That said, it’s important to choose the ideal keywords so that AI authors can successfully crawl the web.

Lack of creativity

From autocorrect to Grammarly, and from paraphrasing tools to essay writers, technology has been injected into our lives and we as users are addicted to it. “Why would I spend 3-4 hours reading books and searching the internet and writing my own term paper when all I have to do is use few software,” says Kashaf Saleem, a second-year bachelor’s student.

She explains how for research project assignments, she takes the help of online applications and software that her elder sister used at her university and later introduced to Kashaf.

“I use my free time to give tuitions to pay my fee but I do feel that my own abilities have been compromised because I don’t remember many spellings like I used to do earlier because autocorrect and Grammarly does that for me,” she confesses.

No human touch

Although, it is handy and time-saving to use AI to write essays, there are certain drawbacks that one should be aware of. Unlike human authors, artificial intelligence typically lacks a distinctive literary style, sounds robotic and not like a writer would write a piece with a human touch.

“It might sound like someone else,” says Siddique explaining that on the overall, employing AI to write essays will save you the time and money compared to alternative writing techniques, but this is the future. “AI occasionally makes grammatical or spelling errors that are usually simple to correct, but you must proofread your essay carefully before handing it in or sharing it with others. Mostly students or even reporters don’t do that but that is not the best way to hand in your work as it may appear shoddy.”

The future

There are many software that journalists use in a newsroom or are adapting to it, but the human touch in the stories cannot be done away with and can only come from humans.

“Journalists should have no fear that their jobs will disappear, because software can only write hard-core news,” says Ali Tahir, who owns an online platform and also teaches mass communication at university level. “Human angle stories or stories that require visualisation from a personal perspective cannot be done by any software.”

Tahir believes that software generated news is well-written from punctuation, sentence formation, and grammar perspective and also cannot come under any kind of plagiarism claim. On the other hand, something heard or written by a human will be different than what a robotic or AI server has jotted down.

“Reporters now have to accept new technology and work smartly,” says Tahir. “They should let technology do research for them and make their work easy such as in press briefings, where there is no need for human angle stories. But with investigative and core journalism they should focus and develop their niche.”

Artificial intelligence (AI) is today an integral part of the new media ecosystem globally, but Pakistan is far behind the AI technology in use presently in developed countries. But even then, very soon we may see politicians and leaders share live video links to newsrooms for coverage. This way they will save on time, travel, and food and accommodation expenses.

“But even in such cases, press conferences will need to be covered physically where a reporter will go and question people so that the story does not look like a press release, but carries a certain individual perspective,” sums up Tahir.

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