February 20 2012

Will technology eliminate writing jobs?

by Barbie in Web Writing

According to GalleyCat, Forbes is one of 30 clients using Narrative Science software to develop computer-generated stories rather than using professional writers. While this news might be alarming to people like me who write and edit for a living, I’m not so sure computer-generated stories are the wave of the future. It’s worrisome, of course, but there is such a high demand for innovative content, particularly on the web, and I’m not convinced that a software can adequately provide that content.

Two professors (one engineering and one computer science) developed Narrative Science, which is no surprise. To them, writing is about compiling data in a narrative form. But to those of us who write — and that goes far beyond professional writers and includes students, professors, lawyers, advertisers, public relations specialists, and more — writing isn’t just about compiling data sets. It’s about sharing information creatively, thoughtfully, and uniquely. A software program cannot do that. It cannot conduct field research and analyze it for your dissertation. It cannot interview people for a newspaper article. And, it can’t write this opinion-based blog post.

Software like Narrative Science is a bit insulting to those of us who write. But, I simply do not believe that a software can ever replicate (or replace) content written by a real person. It might be used as a cost-cutting measure for some websites, but the need for well-written, thoughtful content will always exist.