The Elephant in AI’s Room Is That No One Wants to Read It

I recently saw a twitter ad for a book. Yes, I know that sentence is weird for lots of reasons, but for today’s conversation let’s focus on the part I left out – the book was being promoted because it was exclusively written by AI. I stopped mid scroll and laughed because in that moment I realized something I’ve been processing ever since – people are generally not excited to read content created by AI. 

And that is the elephant in the AI room. 

As ChatGPT takes over the internet and the generative content wars wage on (I’m sure this is only the beginning), it’s fascinating how excited marketers are about using the tool. I went to a meetup last week and listened as 50+ marketers fervently debated the use, reliability, and ethics behind AI generated content and using it for clients. It was the most passionate I’ve ever seen an event like that.

These agency people ran the gamut on their application of the tools so far. Some of them have already completely replaced their writer contracts with ChatGPT. Others were in the room just trying to understand what AI generative content was (I felt a little bad for them), but the majority of us I would describe as cautious and curious. 

At some point during the panel I asked the question (with probably more than a little of my own opinion showing), “right, but what do people think when they get to the bottom of a post and see the little caption saying that the content was written by AI?” 

There was a brief quiet. Soon the responses flooded in mostly with the admission that it’s not a good feeling. That’s mostly the same answer I recently got from a very informal poll of my Linkedin friends.

AI, as many have pointed out, is often wrong. It is predictive and therefore based on ideas that have come before. Nothing new. It makes logical connections between ideas based on algorithms. 

None of that is inherently bad and this is not the article that I’m using to create any sort of thesis on the ethics or use of these tools going forward. What I am saying is that reading AI is like going to a Journey concert in 2023. The songs may sound similar, but something authentic is missing. 

Maybe all of this started when us marketers started referring to the written word as “content” which inherently trivializes the effort it takes to write with perspective, accuracy, and fun. With a word, we put great writers on equal footing as SEO hacks. Maybe the combination of humans and AI will actually be a good thing and it will unlock the potential of many writers stuck in front of a blank page. Maybe the race to rank for content will create a volume of content creation we’ve never seen. Maybe it won’t matter because people will start using chatbots for research instead of search engines. 

Here’s what I believe – great writing is helpful, accurate, interesting, and at least a little bit funny. And right now, AI generated content on its own is very little of that. We’ll see what happens next. 

This post was written by AI. 

Just kidding. 

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