Artificial intelligence will benefit business in myriad ways. But AI that writes for us should be rejected completely.
AI writes-Machines are getting better at writing. They can finish our sentences. They can reply to our emails. They can write news reports and even novels. But just because they can doesn’t mean they should.
Artificial intelligence (AI) is launching a technology revolution that will transform business over the next decade. The most powerful use for AI may be in the area of decision support, where algorithms feed us streams of knowledge and advice as we go about our work. Gartner says AI augmentation alone will create $2.9 trillion (with a “t”) in business value in 2021.
AI evolution is necessary for enterprise security, too, if only because the cybercriminals will use it to build better malware. We’ll benefit from AI in manufacturing, design, transportation and in countless other areas.
In short, AI will prove to be a huge boost to business.
But as we embark on this partnership with artificial intelligence, it’s important that we safeguard human intelligence. And the biggest threat to human intelligence is software that writes.
The creeping takeover of business writing
The mainstreaming of AI business writing began with Google Smart Reply four years ago. Google Inbox users were offered a few colorless options for a reply to most emails. The feature still exists in Gmail, and with a single click you can respond with “Thanks!” or “I’ll send it to you” or “Let’s do Friday!”
Last year Google added Smart Compose, which finishes the sentences you start. You can choose Google’s words by pressing the tab key.
Using Smart Reply and Smart Compose saves time but makes replies dull. They’re dull because Google makes sure the replies are generic and designed to not annoy or offend anyone (for example, Google’s AI never uses gendered pronouns like “he” or “she”), and also because millions of other Gmail users are using the exact same wording for their replies. We all sound the same in our replies.
Google is not alone. Lightkey makes a Windows application that works like Google’s Smart Compose.