Gartner, the IT research company that made the bold proclamation, reports that it’s a complicated answer. To some degree, the robot takeover has already begun: Robots are already producing large volumes of breaking-news content and doing so for major news brands like the Associated Press, according to CNN.
Daryl Plummer, managing vice president of Gartner and one of its top analysts, believes that machine learning will eventually acquire the ability to handle other written tasks, including the production of legal documents, market reports, press releases and shareholder reports, among others.
Plummer notes that for certain situations, a lack of “biases or emotional responses” that robots provide can be an asset. That highlights an interesting value for automated writing solutions: One of their best attributes may be the lack of other traits that make the rest of us human.
To understand the value of automated content, it’s important to look at where machine learning is currently being deployed. Many of the forms of content being targeted by robots is written in a straightforward, even dry manner. The design of that content is to provide information in a clear, direct way—these aren’t efforts to craft anything entertaining or creative.
While that seems like a limitation, there’s actually some considerable value where content marketing is concerned. Robo-written content is important, nonetheless, performing tedious but essential duties as part of a brand’s marketing and communications strategy. In the past, this work has been handled by humans, and that isn’t necessarily the best use of those individuals’ time.
Thanks to machine learning, marketing departments could potentially outsource that simple content to a robot and dedicate their human resources to more challenging work, such as content designed to engage consumers emotionally. Robots are often portrayed as a threat to the content marketer’s career, but they might actually be a valuable tool. Plummer notes how robots and automated learning may eventually replace the formulaic children’s shows that teach children through TV.
“[It] might seem a little strange to us, but is it really stranger than being trained by a purple dinosaur named Barney?” asked Plummer, according to CIO.
As the Content Marketing Institute notes, ideal robo-writing would be a boon for corporations because it would solve one of their most pressing challenges: finding qualified content-writing talent. But robots aren’t the solution to that problem.
CMI points out that the human element is what sustains the most successful content, and that is something robots can’t mimic.
“You can’t rip out the human component to content and automate the core competency, which is producing media and telling stories,” it notes.
Then there’s the fact that humans are very effective at setting tone through the voice of content, and shifting that tone on the fly—something automated solutions wouldn’t be able to do. Where there is voice involved, there needs to be a human behind the words. And because content marketing is designed to promote a brand’s voice, humans are indispensable, no matter how great a robot’s grammar might be.
It may sound like a genuine threat, but the robot takeover remains far away from the content marketing industry. Instead, marketers should be excited about how robo-writing could reinvent their organization’s productivity, and ultimately help humans become even better at their jobs.
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