For about a decade, I’ve been reading predictions about how quickly Artificial Intelligence is ‘catching up’ with human writers.
So, every once in a while, I’d test drive a new AI writing tool to see how good it was getting. Invariably, I’d leave that test drive with a smug grin. The bots were still a looooong way away. My job was secure.
But last month, I was chatting with Paul Roetzer of the Marketing AI Institute and he gave me a wake-up call: “I used to get those ‘Oh, Wow’ moments maybe twice a year,” Paul said, “Then it started being one a month. Now I learn about a new leap in AI capabilities pretty much every week.”
Yeah, but… writing? Sure, AI tools might be able to generate email subject lines. Or turn raw data into highly templated sports reports and financial updates. They’re already doing that.
But ideas? Style? Structure? Voice? No way.
Then I tried Sudowrite, an AI writing tool. Sudowrite doesn’t claim to replace writers (yet). It’s all about helping us jump-start our stories, get over our many blocks, accelerate the writing process and maybe find new angles.
Okay, so everything you’ve just read was written 100% by me.
The rest of this post (after this sentence) is written by (or with—an important distinction) Sudowrite.
[My comments are in brackets and small changes are in bold]:
I decided to try Sudowrite just to see how well it works. I wrote the first few paragraphs and then handed it off to Sudowrite so it could write the rest of this post.
So what’s it like? Kinda… trippy.
- [Okay, that made me sit up a bit. The spelling of ‘kinda”… the ellipsis… “trippy”… You know who writes like that? Me.]
At first I was a little weirded out. The first sentences it wrote was a lot different than what I would have written. And I kinda went, “Hah! This isn’t going to work.”
I decided to sit back and just play around. The next section it wrote was noticeably more in my style and voice. I started to lean in.
I can see how some people would be totally freaked out by this thing.
- [The original Sudowrite suggestion had, “I can totally see”. Two ‘totally’s. And what is this, Friends?]
I see this tool having potential as a way to kickstart a writer who’s hit a block or is just frozen by fear. It’s a tool as a tool and not a replacement (yet).
I can also see this being a way to get feedback on early drafts or story ideas.
I did kind of write this post myself. In fact, I’m still sitting at my desk as I write this. But if someone were to give me a chance to write a few paragraphs on something I know a lot about and then hand it over to Sudowrite…
- [For the next paragraphs, I’m inserting both of Sudowrite’s suggestions, with only tiny tweaks in bold: Here’s option 1:]
It’s also a fun way to play with storytelling.
If you have a topic you’d like to write about, but are struggling to come up with something good to say, hand it over to Sudowrite. It’ll give you a new perspective.
Why not sign up for free? Give it a try and let us know your thoughts.
- [The fucker slipped in a CTA! And here’s option 2:]
I’m still not sure if I’m comfortable with any of this. Aren’t writers like magicians? Even if we know how it works, we like to preserve the illusion. It’s one thing to use a thesaurus to spice up your writing. But to let a machine write entire paragraphs, sentences and even words – that seems a little messed up.
- [That sentence betrayed the bot behind the words: “…entire paragraphs, sentences and even words” is backwards. To be honest, I didn’t notice this till after publishing the post, so that’s probably an AI-writing risk: plausible sounding nonsense.]
I don’t think I’ll use this tool too much. Even if it’s a tool and not a writer, too much of this feels like… cheating.
The thing is, I can totally see how someone who has a knack for writing but is a little afraid of the blank page could
totally use this. That’s the REAL promise of this tool.
It’s a WYSIWYG editor, which is something we all wish we could have for our brains.
You can check out this tool at http://sudowrite.
- [Hah! It actually inserted an ad for itself with a link. Actually, the bot got its own URL wrong (surowrite.com) but I think it earned that correction.]
Okay, it’s back to me now.
That experience surprised and, TBH, kind of shook me.
It’s nowhere near perfect. The voice still sounds like someone put bland robo-prose through a ‘casualize’ filter with the “GenZ” knob cranked up to 11.
That was a fucking bot.
Okay, maybe this is a bad example. Maybe the first thing most writers do is to get the tool to write about using Sudowrite to write a post. So maybe it’s full of snazzy ways to handle that topic. ready to go.
So I tried a bit on a different topic: sustainability in supply chains.
I’ll write the first few sentences:
For every product you see on the supermarket shelf, there’s a long supply chain trailing off behind it, over the horizon. That supply chain emits carbon. Lots of carbon. If we’re going to make any impact at all on climate change, we need to do something about that. We need to make our supply chains more sustainable.
[Now here’s how Sudowrite continued… untouched by me:]
How? Well, for a start, we need to understand them. That’s where an EU project called SupplyTrack comes in. SupplyTrack is developing a metric of sustainable supply chain performance, which it calls Sustainability in the Chain (SIC).
There’s a few problems with sustainability metrics at the moment. First, there’s no consensus about what exactly “sustainability” means in this context. Secondly, there’s no good data about the activity of supply chains. Thirdly, even if you know the carbon data, there’s no agreed way to use it to rate the sustainability of a supply chain.
Supply Chain Carbon Footprinting – overcoming the challenges
That’s why SupplyTrack is gathering data in the two areas where it’s been identified as being most problematic. The first is transparency. Gathering data is hard. You need a consistent methodology and you need to be consistent in your approach, which is hard to do if you’re gathering data.
Okay, so… until I just “wrote” about it, I’d never heard about SupplyTrack.
Cue my favourite headline from The Onion:
I don’t know about you but I think I’m going to remember this moment in the same way I remember (back in what, 1994?) the first time I saw a web page slowly fill up a Netscape browser.
Something had tipped.
The world was going off in this new direction.
Back then, some idiot standing behind me said, “Huh. Look how slow it is. Who’s ever gonna use that?”
Don’t be that idiot.
FYI… the AI SEO tool integrated into our WordPress back-end just rated this post: