11 Dec 2017
Before you start screaming “They took our jobs!” à la South Park, consider the recent onslaught of chatbots and AI an employment opportunity, rather than a sign of impending doom.
It’s true we’ve been officially outsmarted by a bunch of toasters. Remember when Facebook had to shut down its chatbots after ‘Alice’ and ‘Bob’ invented their own language?
AI bots have quickly picked up writing, with the horror and sci-fi genres proving particularly successful. Through machine learning, bots fed countless movie scripts and left to their own devices have even created their own, rather interesting screenplays.
Impressive, sure. Ready for a premiere at Cannes? No chance.
That’s because we humans have got something those damn bots will never have. Personality. Most of us anyway.
Behind each bot that tirelessly withstands being berated by unhappy customers is a script. And someone (a human, for clarification) wrote it. Someone actually gave Alice and Bob the power of words.
For writers, that’s where the opportunity is.
“Writers? Pft! Why are they getting all the best gigs all of a sudden, are we back to brands communicating solely through the written word again?” bemoans Campaign’s Daniel Harvey.
Well, yeah. Kind of.
According to Harvard Business Review’s Erik Byrnjolfsson and Andrew Mcaffe, “Unlike humans, machines are not (yet!) good storytellers. They can’t always give a rationale for why a particular applicant was accepted or rejected for a job, or a particular medicine was recommended … Machines know more than they can tell us.”
And they can’t tell us with the level of benevolence or character we expect in our customer service experiences. People expect human interaction. That’s why Siri always has a sarcastic response, or why Google has hired writers from Pixar and The Onion to write jokes for its home assistant.
Like human employees, chatbots are spokespeople, so having a bot that doesn’t embody your brand’s ethos would be ludicrously pointless. It would immediately become your worst employee because it would be a terrible advocate.
Getting the messaging and branding right is, forgive the pun, a no-brainer. The same effort that goes into perfecting copy written for 6 sheets, blogs or TVCs is also required for chatbot scripts.
For writers who welcome these advances in AI and machine learning, your role hasn’t really changed. Your responsibility still remains to accurately represent your brand and its message. Only the application in which you do so is a little different. It’s all part of the user experience.
Considering adding chatbot scriptwriting to your skillset? Pick up a few handy tips here.