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Case Study: AI Writing Assistants

Instructor: John Hamilton

John has tutored algebra and SAT Prep and has a B.A. degree with a major in psychology and a minor in mathematics from Christopher Newport University.

Would you like to learn more about AI writing assistants? The ensuing lesson will detail some of the more popular artificial intelligence tools, showcase applications for the nascent software, and delineate some of the pros and cons of their utilization. Updated: 03/21/2022

Who doesn't remember that cringe-worthy moment in the 1991 movie Terminator 2: Judgement Day when the machines became self-aware at 2:14 a.m. EDT on August 29th, 1997? The humans valiantly try to shut down Skynet and... well, perhaps let's go watch a comedy movie instead. After all, we humans have liked to think we're superior to our robots since at least the 1950s.

Let's hop into our trusty DeLorean so we can fast forward to 2022 and beyond. While machines aren't quite self-aware yet, they're getting closer and displaying some impressive capabilities. An AI writing assistant or artificial intelligence writing assistant can be defined as certain software that assists in automating the content-generating process. Additionally, it can be a valuable tool in the arsenal of a technical writer, copywriter, or marketing professional.

Furthermore, they can be used to help with:

  • Grammar
  • Product ideation
  • Writing structure
  • Writing style
  • Writing tone

Some available AI writing assistants include:

  • Ginger
  • Grammarly
  • Hemingway app
  • INK editor
  • Jasper (formerly Jarvis)
  • Sapling
  • Turnitin
  • Wordtune

Moreover, two related AI tools are the:

  • Flesch-Kincaid Index - This offers a readability score, with 100 being the easiest to read and 0 is virtually unreadable.
  • Gunning Fog Index - This offers a comprehension score, with 0 being the easiest to understand, and 20 meaning it is very difficult to digest the material.

Pros of AI Writing Assistants

1) They are a quick way of checking readability. AI software works almost immediately, and the more an individual uses them the quicker they tend to be for testing the readability of new material.

2) For the most part, AI software is generally accurate. For example, even a seasoned writer at times will confuse where to put a comma between clauses, but Grammarly or similar software can spot an error almost instantaneously.

3) AI software can be tailored specifically to the needs of the user. Mary is a popular YouTube video creator with over 250,000 followers. She has two channels, one for reviewing her favorite music from the 1980s, and another for featuring gluten-free recipes. However, while she is charming in front of the camera, she is not a particularly gifted writer. Instead, Mary tailors her AI writing assistant software to do both tasks. She enters different data for her two different channels, which yields two different sets of results. Most of her loyal watchers have no idea she even uses the technology either.

4) AI software is always ready and available for work 24/7 and doesn't need to rest, sleep, or take coffee breaks. As far as we know, it doesn't call in sick or complain about the weather either.

5) AI software works well with just about any type of available text.

Cons of AI Writing Assistants

1) AI software tends to disregard content. A mathematics article about memorizing the digits of Pi would be completely different than an article about the top ten novels in British literature, but AI tends to view all content similarly. Would your family shop at a ''one-size-fits-all'' shoe store? AI tends to have trouble factoring in the fact that each and every human being is a unique individual with juxtaposing needs and interests.

2) There may be no way to calculate the human element. Have you ever heard that soon in the future AI music is going to replace your favorite music? ''Oh, no'', you exclaim, ''I don't want my favorite bands to disappear forever.'' In a panic, you decide to go online to YouTube to listen to an AI music track.

You quickly realize that although AI music actually sounds pretty good, it's sort of ''soulless'' in nature. The Rolling Stones along with your favorite bands are safe, and will somehow be performing for many more years. Well, in a way this applies to AI writing assistants as well. There simply exists some inexplicable intangible that a human being brings to writing that can't quite ever be replicated by a machine.

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