By Chuck Woodbury
Meet Johnny Robot, our new writer. His first article appears in this issue of the RV Travel Newsletter. The link is below. But before I go on, let me be honest with you (as I always am). Even though Johnny is a capable writer, I detest him. No, I hate him. My grandmother, Rest In Peace, always told me to never use the word hate unless I really, really meant it. Okay, I mean it: I hate Johnny.
Here’s why: Johnny wants to make me, and all my writer friends, go the way of the dinosaur. He wants to put us out of business. And he is no friend of yours, either, which you may figure out if you read on.
Johnny is, indeed, a robot (of sorts). He (or “she” or “it” — pick one) writes articles on any subject a writer or publisher requests for a dollar or two each using artificial intelligence (AI) — 10 times faster than a human, maybe 20 times faster. For example, if I need a story about how to dump a holding tank, I can assign it to a freelance writer, or “Johnny” can do it in a few minutes for a fraction of what I’d pay a real writer.
Johnny only exists in cyberspace. At this very moment I bet he is writing thousands of articles for publishers, bloggers, advertising agencies and “content creators” — anyone who needs editorial or advertising copy. I call him Johnny. But he doesn’t really have a name because he does not exist in real life.
Johnny at work
To give you an idea of Johnny’s skills, I will ask him right now to write an article with this headline: “What should I know before buying an RV?” Below is Johnny’s lead paragraph exactly as he “wrote” it in minute or two. If I didn’t like this, I could refresh and it would give me another version. If I thought it was hard to understand, I could click a button to modify the writing to a “fifth grade reading level.”
Here is what Johnny spit out for the headline above:
“When deciding whether or not to buy an RV, you should take certain things into account. First, determine your budget and stick to it. If you don’t have a lot of money to spend, then consider other options like renting one instead of buying one.”
Here is another first paragraph of an article I asked Johnny to write: “Why Is My RV Water Heater Making Noise?”
“You probably have a water heater in your RV that uses gas to heat the water. Over time, this gas can build up and make your RV’s water heater make noise. The good news is that there are ways to fix this problem.”
IN BOTH INSTANCES, with a few prompts from me, Johnny would keep writing, and I would have an article to post on RVtravel.com within a few minutes.
Even ignorant humans can now be writers
A human “content creator” with minimum writing skills and virtually no knowledge of RVing could turn out articles like these all day long, good enough for search engines to interpret as real. Alas, these “content creators” are doing it 24/7 with one purpose: to attract visitors to a website or blog to earn money.
You have probably seen their work. In articles about RVing, you may notice that something seems wrong. The “writer” uses an RVing term improperly, or offers advice that you know is wrong or at least written awkwardly, not like a knowledgeable RVer would write it.
And, to a website publisher’s or blogger’s joy, the articles written using such artificial intelligence are done in a way that pleases Google, so they stand a good chance of ranking high in search results. Our articles at RVtravel.com, on the other hand, which are written by experts who know their subjects, may be rated lower because we do not play the game “SEO first, quality of content second.” [SEO = Search Engine Optimization, i.e., more traffic to a website or web page from search engines.]
So guess what you get when you search a particular subject written by artificial intelligence? You get low quality, often incorrect or mediocre advice and information.
Okay, now the good news: Johnny will only write for RVtravel.com to help us to remind you to be careful about what you read. I am purposely not telling you where to find “Johnny” for your own purposes: I do not want to promote his/her/its efforts to run me outta Dodge.