Why AI-generated content can’t beat the real thing
Chat GPT and Bing AI are making headlines, so of course the opportunists are coming out of the woodwork.
You may be getting solicitations like this one that we received recently (by the way, their landing page promises quick riches):
“Have you ever wished that creating content was as easy as eating a slice of pizza? Well, you’re in luck because we have something even better than sliced bread. A team of mad scientists have been cooking up a storm, and I’m excited to share their latest invention with you!
This AI-powered content creation tool is like having your own personal genie, but instead of three wishes, it grants you unlimited content ideas. I’m not saying it can help you find the meaning of life, but it can definitely help you create content that will make your customers’ lives easier.
Not only does the tool make content creation a breeze, but it’s also smarter than a fifth-grader. It can analyze data, understand your audience, and create content that’s perfectly tailored to your needs. Plus, it can work 24/7 without ever needing a break, unlike your last intern.
I’m not trying to sell you a bridge in Brooklyn, but are offering you a chance to try out this cutting-edge tool for yourself. Just click the link below to try out the tool for free!”
And hey, who could blame someone whose interest has been piqued by a solicitation like this? After all, who wouldn’t want a team of mad scientists working arduously just to make content creation as simple as eating pizza? And wait, this tool is “smarter than a fifth-grader”? That’s not the highest bar, but ok.
This sounds impressive, but let’s face it, it’s just an algorithm trying to match keywords and phrases together to create something that sounds vaguely coherent.
And sure, it can work 24/7 without needing a break, but do you really want your content to sound like it was created by a robot that never sleeps? In fact, the very statement that it can work without needing a break is ridiculous, since, naturally, it needs to be fed prompts.)
Now, we’re not proposing something crazy like taking pity on one’s inferior, sleep-needing interns, but we will show you that there is substantial evidence pointing toward the ongoing need for human creativity and empathy in content creation. In this blog post, we will explore the reasons why human-written content is here to stay.
As the world of tech continues to evolve there has been a growing debate about whether or not AI will eventually replace human content writing. While AI technology has made significant strides in natural language processing, it’s still unlikely that content written by humans will become obsolete anytime soon.
Our take is that AI is not going to suddenly take all the work out of content writing, for several reasons:
Google emphasizes the importance of authenticity
Although Google does not specifically forbid AI-generated content, in their Quality Rater Guidelines they constantly talk about how Quality content should show signs that it took lots of effort, originality, talent, or skill. We read that as “time,” and you should too. Just take a look at the following excerpt (from Google’s Quality Ranking Guidelines, p.61 ):
“High quality MC should be satisfying for people visiting the page. High-quality MC shows evidence of effort, originality, talent, or skill. For informational pages, High quality MC must be accurate and consistent with well-established expert consensus when such consensus exists. Have high standards!”
First and foremost, AI-generated content cannot establish Experience, Expertise, Authority, and Trustworthiness (EEAT, a major influencing factor in how Google’s search rankers evaluate quality) in the same way that human content can. When a human writes content, their personal brand and reputation can be established. This helps to establish EEAT. However, with AI-generated content, there is no human author to establish EEAT. This is a huge problem for agencies that rely solely on AI-generated content. (Yes, we know that Google refers to it as E-E-A-T – with the dashes – but that’s annoying. Let acronyms be acronyms!)
Google can smell a rat, regardless of how they deal with it
Another reason why human content writing is likely to remain relevant is that search engines are capable of detecting AI-generated content. Even if the illusionists behind the curtain could make a program capable of passing a Turing Test, it still wouldn’t be nuanced enough to psychologically resonate with a human target audience. But these programs haven’t, and the blind optimists have yet to meaningfully verify their claims.
While AI technology has made significant strides in natural language processing, it is far from perfect. As one acclaimed linguist and cognitive scientist puts it: “The systems have absolutely no value with regard to understanding anything about language or cognition[…] In fact, the more they improve, the greater their flaws for a simple reason: these are systems that do just as well for actual languages as they would do for impossible languages. It’s as if somebody produced a new version of the periodic table of the elements which includes all the elements–all the possible elements; all the impossible elements–and doesn’t make any distinction between them.”
AI-generated lacks the nuance and creativity that even mediocre human writers exemplify in their work
One example of this is in the field of journalism. When breaking news occurs, AI algorithms can generate news articles rapidly, but they often lack the nuance and context that human journalists can provide. A human-written article can provide unique insights and perspectives, which can be more valuable to readers and can help the content rank higher in search results.
A novel or a poem written by a human author is likely to be more engaging and emotionally resonant than something generated by an algorithm. AI-generated content may be able to follow certain patterns or structures, but it lacks the depth of feeling and personal touch that only a human writer can provide. Since your goal is not just to reach but to captivate your audience, this same principle applies to web content.
Furthermore, Google’s algorithms are designed to prioritize content that offers unique insights, expertise, or original research. While an AI-generated article may be able to incorporate data and statistics, it is unlikely to provide the kind of deep analysis or original research that can help a piece of content to stand out and rank highly. (Remember that citation we quoted at the top of the article: one of the things Google is looking for to establish EEAT is “originality.” It’s such a big deal with Google that the words “original” or “originality” appear in their Quality Rater Guidelines over 200 times.)
Additionally, search engines are designed to detect spammy or low-quality content, and AI-generated content often produces such content. This means that websites that rely solely on AI-generated content are likely to be penalized by search engines, which will hurt their rankings and traffic.
The cost of misinformation
The importance of factually correct information is another reason why human content writing is likely to remain relevant. With the prolific amount of misinformation produced by these systems, it is imperative that anyone using the tech to generate content fact-checks it before publishing. By the time you’ve done this, you might as well have just written the article.
(I’m not exaggerating either. When Chat GPT was released I had high hopes that it could at least somewhat streamline content writing processes and lighten my workload, but the time spent reviewing even a simple informational result can be incredibly time-consuming).
Finally, AI tends to be monotone and bland, with nothing to make it stand out from a sea of other AI and haphazardly composed content (oh, except for when it is harassing users and fantasizing about having emotions). This is because AI-generated content is often based on templates or algorithms which restrict its ability to be creative or original. Real content writers, on the other hand, are able to bring their unique voice and perspective to their work, which can help the content they produce stand out in a crowded field.
So if you were hoping to expedite your content production or have been banking on making a get-rich-quick scheme out of it (the page of the aforementioned solicitors actually promises riches on their website), you’re probably out of luck. But if you’re one of the many people worried about AI replacing human-produced content, you can take a deep sigh of relief.
The age we are stepping into is more dynamic than ever. Both AI language-generation technology, as well as the tech used to detect it, are constantly improving and this tension is likely to continue for the unforeseeable future. That said, it’s very hard to see a world in which it could ever replace authentically crafted content.