Monthly Archives: March 2018

Why AI can never replace a real human writer

Charley Oakes, Senior Copywriter and Editorial Project Manager

Charley Oakes, Senior Copywriter and Editorial Project Manager

A week or so ago our editorial projects division Writers Inc. tweeted a fascinating article about Reuters’ development of Lynx Insight, a new artificial intelligence (AI) tool capable of pitching story ideas and writing sentences, the aim being to save human journalists time and boost productivity.

Taken at face value, most professional writers, from journalists to copywriters like myself, would probably have sat up at this story and uttered the word: eh? (Optional extras: a shudder of horror or/and projectile tea across the room.) However, it’s important to take a step back and realise that Lynx Insight is not about replacing real reporters, but more about harnessing technology to analyse data and present the most useful results.

Is AI the future of journalism or copywriting? In a word – no. Instead, it’s a very credible research tool to be handled and its results interpreted, with care. By humans.

 

Reuters is a pioneer in using AI and robotics to improve its processes and is proud of its focus on bringing machines and humans together – a vision it calls the ‘cybernetic newsroom’ – to each do what they do best to achieve a common goal. The idea behind Lynx Insight is that its AI software can sift through a massive amount of data to identify news trends and produce concise snippets human editors can then finesse or develop as needed, with clear time-saving benefits. On a practical level, humans simply could not analyse reams of data as speedily.

In the Reuters case, when it comes to the written sentences produced by Lynx Insight, these would always be reviewed by a human prior to publication. Cue a sigh of relief. While there are innate differences between the role of news journalist and the role of copywriter, surely the ability to write effectively still runs through everything we do. How many writers of any sort would genuinely feel comfortable handing this task over entirely to an algorithm?

Human personality is so important to the written word. At Acceleris and Limelight, we hold brainstorms to generate creative ideas – the good ones often end up flowing through the copy we produce. Understanding and capturing a client’s tone of voice can often be as important to brand and reputation as communicating key messages. When the right words aren’t coming, human writers know when to pause for reflection and that a great idea can come from simply taking a walk, getting some fresh air, or a chat with a colleague.

AI may not be able to replace a real human writer, but it has a valuable role to play in so many other fields. For corporate law firm Addleshaw Goddard (AG), one of our professional services clients, AI forms part of its Intelligent Delivery offer, which brings together the best people, processes and technology to optimise legal services for clients. AG uses Kira, a powerful AI system, to quickly interrogate and manage large volumes of information to save significant amounts of time.

On a personal level, I own an Amazon Echo and use it at home daily to stream music, listen to the radio and ask the time when wrestling my toddler into his coat and gloves while ushering the dog out of the way means I’m anything but hands-free. As impressed I am by the concept of driverless cars and open to the idea that they will become part of everyday life in my generation, I wouldn’t let one chauffeur me in my lifetime. Meanwhile, AI has a highly valuable potential role in improving outcomes in healthcare, such as in one study where AI has been used to analyse data to predict how many patients could end up in intensive care, and this must be explored. Amazing.

I, as will most professional writers, will watch the rise of the use of AI in research with great interest and if the opportunity presents itself, give it a go. I can’t speak for other writers, but in terms of letting AI write on my behalf, I’ll do that when I replace my car with one that can drive itself.

At Writers Inc., we can’t offer AI, but we can offer humans. To give our ‘algorithm’ a go, please get in touch.

An Intern’s Insight – My First Work Experience within PR

Helen Mehammer

Helen Mehammer, Intern at Acceleris

The day I had been looking forward to for so long was finally here, my first day as an intern at Acceleris. Would this be as eye-opening as I hoped it would be? As an international student studying in Leeds, mainly working within customer service in Norway, I was curious about what it would be like working in the UK, especially within PR and communications.

I was given a warm welcome by Alison who gave me a tour around the office. Just after I got settled at my desk for the week, I was invited to join the Monday team meeting. I was keen to get immersed in agency life; it was great to receive this introduction and to be given my first research and social content tasks.

I graduated from the University of Agder in Norway in March 2017. By that time, I had already been accepted at Leeds Beckett University as a MA PR and Strategic Communications student and I had planned to undertake a work placement during my second semester. As I did not have work experience within communications and knew how difficult it is to get ‘ahead of the game’ within the media industry in Norway, I saw the opportunity to gain knowledge and experience not easily achieved at home.

Not knowing where to apply, I attended a session by Ellie and Rebecca from Acceleris who were visiting my University to talk about working within communications and tips on how to apply for an internship. The meeting was inspiring, and Acceleris seemed like a good place to work. A short time after, I sent my CV and cover letter to Acceleris – and I got a placement for four weeks. I was ecstatic!

Working at Acceleris has absolutely been eye-opening. Doing research for clients, producing content for social media and brochures, and writing press releases are a few of the many tasks I’ve been able to do. I have also learnt how to use Canva, a picture editing program used to produce content e.g. for social media channels. I have also been introduced to GoAnimate which can be used to produce different animations and infographics, which was fun as I didn’t have any knowledge in that area until now.

My time as an intern has not only shown me what it’s like to work within communications, but I have also been part of a great, friendly working environment, where everyone makes coffee for everyone! Being an intern at Acceleris is absolutely worth the time, and I highly recommend doing a work placement here.

If you too would like to get ‘ahead of the game’, find out more about the Acceleris Academy work experience programme: http://www.acceleris-mc.com/pr-jobs-harrogate-london.html