Automating writing

Photo by Alex Knight on Pexels.com

I wrote this piece in 2014 I think but don’t recall posting it:

I came across a post on Linkedin recently promoting a piece of software that would automatically write articles on any chosen subject with material gathered by it from Google and other online sources.

Ultimately its’ main purpose seems to be to make websites more visible to Google, in order to improve search engine optimisation. For example I could start a search to produce an article on rose arches, I could specify its’ length and enrich its’ content to be full of the keywords suitable for my purposes. The sentences would be properly parsed and the result could be altered sufficiently to be largely original, references to sources can be included and identified. Whether at the end of the day anyone would find it as useful as something I had written (however badly) myself is another matter.

This undoubtably is a very clever piece of software and could save a lot of time. Whilst it is clever and possibly a masterpiece in software design it is ultimately to my way of thinking, in many ways totally devoid of real value or to be precise its’ output may well be devoid of value. If our purpose in life is to serve the interests, increase the status and the well being of Google and similar organisations then it is indeed potentially a tool of imense value. If on the other hand the real purpose of writing articles is to disseminate original thinking, communicate new ideas or engage in debate then its’ value is far less certain.

It could, it is fair to say, be used as a research tool, gathering together information easily and quickly but I think it more likely that it will become in the hands of the many, a means to produce items of very questionable value, except that is to the Google machine.

The question for me is whether or not we are losing the plot, this device seems to be the ultimate recycling tool, negating the need for research and scholarship. Taken to its’ furthest extreme it will end up recycling the recycled. Somewhere lurking in my memory is a paragraph or two from the Foundation Trilogy by Isaac Assimov which alluded to something like this. Isaac Assimov was prophetic in many ways I hope in this instance he was wrong.

I searched for automated writing software today and there is a lot available. The thought that crosses my mind is that some of the prolific blog writers are perhaps not sharing their own thoughts with us but that of an automaton.

2 responses to this post.

  1. Weird! Very 1984-ish. At least everyone is assured my waffling is my own. No one else would write like me.

    Reply

  2. Quite probably. On the other hand such articles save me having to collate the information for myself (handy if I want a quick bit of – for instance – ‘could this happen without electricity’ for my novel without spending a day finding out).
    My main thought, though, is that it can only regurgitate what’s been said before, even if it can make a more comprehensive job of it. (Sounds boring now I think of it.).
    It can’t add 2 and 3 together and spout an original conclusion.

    Reply

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