In a recent LinkedIn Post, a young man brags he used AI to steal the titles of his competitor’s posts. Once he had the titles, he used AI to write a post for every title, stealing their traffic. I am certain he is telling the truth about this, and that it’s working. I hope there is a place in hell for barbarians like this, but it's more likely his life is already a kind of hell.
Unveiling the Dark Side of AI-Generated Content
In full disclosure, I use AI every day. I write every word of every post I publish, but I use AI to edit my work. To prevent it from rewriting my text, I’ve designed a prompt that blocks that functionality and lets me check the results. If you don’t stop AI from rewriting the text, it may improve your writing, but will also be clear to anyone that you didn’t write the text. My editor still edits every post, even after AI edits it. The difference between AI-generated content and human-created content is obvious and stark, and I believe the human-generated content is not only more meaningful, but also more trustworthy and higher-quality.
I also use AI to take my daily thousand words and ask AI to turn it into eight bullet points with emojis. I use the results on LinkedIn, X, and Facebook. I sometimes use AI to create an image to go along with the bullet point content I publish.
AI is an excellent assistant, but it isn’t nearly as good on its own. Yet, we are right at the beginning of an explosion of AI-generated content that will overwhelm us with the amount of content it creates and underwhelm us with how derivative it is, making this content a future commodity.
The Artistry versus Automation: Evaluating the Value of Human-Crafted Content
Open your AI and ask it to create a picture of a woman with an interesting smile. Set that picture next to the Mona Lisa and compare the two. The one painted by the painter with a soul is more valuable. Unless you believe NFTs will increase in value and crypto is a currency, you will recognize that human-created art is more valuable.
Both McDonald's and Kitchen Social are restaurants. The first restaurant provides you with a meal, although I wouldn’t join you there. The second restaurant is full of people who care deeply about the quality of the food and the experience. These two restaurants are not competitors and they don’t serve the same function. The difference between AI- and human-created content is similar.
The more one believes that everything is a transaction, the more they will use AI to create content. The more one believes they must create the content themselves, the more value their output has.
The Post-Literate Era: Why Deep Content Still Matters
You and I live in the post-literate society. Most people consume content that is visual or audible, preferring to consume it passively. Reading is active. You must read the words, engaging several important skills, like determining their meaning and tone and how the overall ideas relate to one another. These are critical-thinking skills that the snippets on X, Facebook, and TikTok don’t demand of us. Readers are also likely to think more deeply about the words they take in and make connections to other things they’ve read. This is a far different process than the one used by social media algorithms to serve up similar videos in a never-ending “Up Next” queue.
Every day, my inbox greets me with offers to make short content for social platforms. Each email suggests I should “blow-up” on YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok. I am not interested in creating short content, as I am on the other side in this contest. Deep is better than shallow. Quality is better than quantity. Knowledge and experience are greater than a bumper sticker or a message delivered in a 20-second video. I am launching a book club for people who want to better understand our world and increase their worth to others.
The Future of Web Content: Balancing Automation and Authenticity
Because humans are generally lazy, you can expect to see more companies and individuals build websites by asking AI to write the content. The content will rank well on Google and bring them traffic, but it will be derivative of an earlier derivative. The information it provides won’t match the content of people who put their heart, mind, and soul into what they create.
After the explosion of commodity content, people will look for what they have always looked for, something unique, something special, something that speaks to them, and something that creates greater value than a commodity. For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.
This reaction will cause people to search for human content creators—people with a perspective and the ability to communicate something that is more valuable than an algorithm, no matter how novel the content it creates is.
In my domain of sales, we have seen savages use AI to scale up emails believing they are personalizing the message. In reality, the result is a glorified mail merge. An algorithm is not capable of personalizing an email because it isn’t a person. That said, these monsters connect the AI to an automated prospecting sequence, better known as a spam bazooka. It seems the email platforms are fighting back, proposing the death penalty for as few as 3 spam complaints out of 5,000 emails that go through their servers.
The Content Conundrum: AI's Rise and the Resurgence of Content Creators
It is early days for AI, and the beginning of the end of content. It's also the beginning and the end of the writer. Content created by an algorithm will grow exponentially before becoming invisible to us, like the terms-of-use contract you sign without reading it. After this coming dark ages, attention will return to the content creator, the person with something to say, something important, something they need to teach, something that can cause people to act.
AI, like other technologies, will improve our lives, and if we are careful, it may help us solve the problems that plague humans, including extending our lives. We have lived without AI, and now we need to learn to live with this new entrant into our overly tech-driven world.
In the end, I believe content creators will win the day, even if surrounded by the forgery that is the commoditized content. Meanwhile, I will continue to write my daily post, using AI as a tool, like a hammer or a screwdriver, and having it edit before I do.