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Are content producers going to be made redundant?

A third of New Zealand jobs could be automated in the next 20 years. This figure, from a 2018 Infometrics report, highlights why so many Kiwis are worried about their future in an AI-driven world.

But creative roles aren’t under threat, are they?

Turns out – yes.

Let’s look at some of the new AI tech that suggests even content can be automated, and why this may not be a bad thing for producers.

Tools that could make content producers redundant

Written copy

The technology is very young, but already emails, ads and even articles are being written by artificially intelligent computers.

Google is leading this charge in the email space. Google Smart Compose offers writing suggestions as you type your emails, using machine learning to figure out your personal style in order to match your typical language. Gmail also offers auto-responses in the form of Smart Reply, which can write entire short emails for you.

Meanwhile, companies such as Lexus, Toyota and Burger King have all published ad campaigns over the past few years that were entirely written by AI, such as IBM’s Watson.

Perhaps most disconcerting for those with an aversion to the power of AI, Elon-Musk-founded tech nonprofit Open AI announced in a press release that it has a system so good at producing natural language article copy that they are refusing to release its full version due to fears of misuse.

Videos and animation

Video producers and animators may also one day compete directly with computers.

Disney researchers, in combination with Rutgers University, are working on technology that can generate storyboard animations from only natural-language text.

Additionally, scientists have created a platform called LumièreNet that can turn audio-only university lectures into video. These videos feature a ‘lecturer’ speaking and posing based on the sounds it hears.

Finally, the Samsung AI Center in Moscow, in conjunction with the Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology, has created a deepfake system that can transform a single photo of someone’s face into a fully animated, talking video.

So what will be the role of future content producers?

For the foreseeable future? The same job they currently perform.

AI-written copy is far from perfect. In the aforementioned Burger King ad, the food chain’s infamous AI-made tagline was “tastes like bird”.

But as the technology evolves, content producers may go the way of many other automated roles – transitioning from small-scale, even menial tasks to mostly high-level jobs that require creativity and strategic thinking.

This will likely lead to a merging of AI and human content. AI analyses customer data to determine what content is likely to perform best, content producers generate ideas and ensure they fit with the organisation’s wider goals. Then, AI creates simple content while humans produce more complex ideas, and AI analyses the results to further optimise.

Humans could also produce the base content that AI then expands or personalises for individual customers – for instance, taking a draft eDM and personalising for each unique customer.

Final thoughts

It’s easy to fear AI, but that doesn’t mean we should.

Any Kiwi business that wants to stay up to date with changing trends whilst also ensuring the security and happiness of its staff should view automation as a strategic partner, not a replacement. Feed AI good data and it can handle large-scale, basic tasks, allowing humans to focus on more important jobs that require creativity and skill.

In the end, you may find that AI enables your staff to work on more rewarding tasks, making them happier and more valuable – not unemployed.

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