Friday 7 July 2023

Will AI mean the end of human created online content?

For a little while now I've been watching with interest as AI becomes more prominent in online life. For some time my Facebook newsfeed has been filled with adverts for companies that will write blog posts and create other online content using AI. I've often suspected that a sponsored post which I've been paid to publish has been heavily influenced by an AI blog post writing tool. 

Two years ago Harry wrote me a simple AI computer programme that would generate blog post titles based on my existing content - Using AI to generate blog post titles. Since then the technology has come on incredibly, especially with the release of ChatGPT meaning that anyone with internet access can easily access user friendly AI tools. I've used ChatGPT to play around with producing blog post ideas as well as writing blog posts, and have been really surprised by how good the results have been. I've not used AI to write a post yet, but I must admit that when I'm suffering from writer's block the thought is very tempting!

It's not just text that AI can produce. I wrote recently about how I'd been using using AI to generate images for blog posts, and although the technology in this area still has some way to go, I can see that it won't be long before AI generated pictures become much more common. They are quick to produce, copyright and royalty free, and you can easily create the exact illustration that you are looking for in an artistic style that suits your needs. 

Artificially generated blog post images
AI generated images

Last week we started watching the new Marvel series Secret Invasion, and the day before I was interested to read that the Secret Invasion opening titles were created using AI. I definitely wouldn't have realised it if I hadn't known - although the sequence is cartoonish and dreamlike it fitted in with similar opening titles that I've seen. 

Although AI video will probably take a little longer to become more common, I did some research and there is software available that will create AI generated people to read out your scripts, as well as giving you the ability to create videos using your own photographs and video clips. You can easily use AI to edit your clips, and to reduce a longer video to make a short form video which is more shareable for social media.

I think that because of the speed at which people consume online content it will become very difficult to spot artificially generated content. When you scroll quickly through a social media feed like TikTok or Instagram you often barely pause to notice what you have just seen. I think that any of the four images above would easily slot into my Instagram feed without me spotting anything unusual.

Unfortunately I think that AI generated content is going to become prolific and more difficult to spot, and this is a bit of a problem for someone like me that enjoys creating online content! 

Obviously a blog post written by AI lacks the personal touch, but if you are looking to create generic content, for example a travel guide to a city, lifestyle articles about a particular hobby, or tips and advice for different situations, I think that an AI can probably write an article equal to that of many bloggers or online journalists. 

This has all sorts of problems associated with it, not least the accuracy of the information but also the potential for bias and discrimination in the writing. When paired with the social media algorithms which prioritise different content for particular users, AI content can easily encourage people to think in particular ways and to influence their views. Not to mention the fact that it takes away the work from many human creative workers. 

I think we are a few years away yet, but the technology is developing so rapidly that I don't think it will be long before the majority of online content that is being consumed is no longer produced by humans.

What do you think? I'd love to hear other (maybe less pessimistic!) opinions!

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