I’ve been writing about machine learning and artificial intelligence quite a bit lately for work. Evidently, you can now use AI to organize all your files, create marketing and advertising, and perform repetitive accounting tasks.

Oh, by the way: you can also use it to create “sales bots,” “customer service bots,” and, of course, “content bots.”

In other words, companies now look to save money by using AI for sales, customer service, marketing, advertising…in short, all the “service” jobs that keep the good ol’ USA economy going.

 

The Blog Bot

Before you panic, don’t worry: the blog you’re reading right now will NEVER be written by a robot, a computer, or any other dystopian high-tech alternative. For better or worse, this old-school writer will continue to crank out free blog posts week in and week out, and no AI blogger robot will get its grubby little metal hands on it. 

If I’m starting to sound paranoid to you, let me assure you, I’m not. I got an ad, on my own Instagram feed, for some product or app that creates blog copy—using artificial intelligence! Why hire another pesky, high-maintenance, coffee-swilling writer when you can just have a bot do it all for you? No more paychecks for those little snobs.

 

Editing for Dummies 

Whilst contemplating the dystopian future for literature already on the horizon, I also got into using one of the worst technologies I’ve ever had the misfortune to encounter: Grammarly, a self-described “cloud-based typing assistant.” (And here I’m reminded of Robin Williams imitating Truman Capote: “That’s not writing, it’s just typing.”) 

One of my wonderful clients now has all writers run their “content” through Grammarly. So I’m faced with the task of editing a very poor editor, one which would no doubt object to my use of the word “very.” I’m not kidding: about 40% of Grammarly’s “corrections” are wrong, at least in my experience. Although some suggestions tighten text slightly, overall it’s a massive time suck.

There’s a weird trend in modern writing that makes it harder and harder for educated, highly-experienced writers to do our jobs. Part of it is the lack of attention span brought on by technology; the other is the strange notion that numerous parts of speech should no longer be used at all. Here are a few aspects of said trend:

1) Adverbs are bad. All of them. Never use an adverb.

2) Adjectives are almost as bad as adverbs. Use only if you have a gun to your head. Elmore Leonard said so.

3) “Passive voice” is unacceptable. Therefore, the words “is,” “was,” “are,” and “were” must all be eradicated from your writing.

You might be surprised to learn that I object to this horseshit. Though who knows? Maybe Charles Dickens should have had an editor revise “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” Get some action verbs in there! Bash, crunch, or crash those times! I’ve got it: “The times crashed like waves upon the shores of consciousness.”

I suppose it reads like the cranky old guy when I write this sort of thing. I get it. But if your writing job gets eliminated in favor of a robot next week, or next month, don’t say I didn’t warn you.

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