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Only serious writers will withstand technological challenges

June 17, 2017 | by Ken Walker

This spring I came across an interesting story via one of my LinkedIn groups, about Adidas moving shoe production from Asia back to Germany. The prototypical “Speedfactory” will be followed later this year by one in the U.S. and, later, others in Western Europe.

In the classic “good news, bad news” scenario, the move doesn’t portend a manufacturing boom for Germany or the U.S. That’s because most of the “workers” turning out shoes in the new locations will be robots.

One wonders who will be able to afford to buy the shoes if much of the workforce is sidelined by machines, but the application for those planning to write—whether as a sidelight or a living—is that our future is also threatened by electronic advancements.

Sidelined by software

For the first time this year, I had a potential client draw back from an agreement because he decided to use the online editing program, Grammarly, instead of my services. I don’t think that was the sole reason, and considering our rather bumpy short-term relationship, it may not have been a major loss.

Still, one would have to ignore the obvious to not see some handwriting on this wall. It’s already happening in other areas. I observed this recently while working on a book for a business client who specializes in online marketing. He recommended entrepreneurs use an online software tool for creating headlines and ad copy instead of hiring an ad agency.

Where this all leads is anyone’s guess, but what it does mean that only those who are truly serious about the craft of writing and editing will be able to withstand the shockwaves.

The need for “high touch”

Over the years, I’ve encountered a ton of would-be authors who say, “I’d love to write,” but then never follow through and actually do it. Full-time writing is an often frustrating, maddening, thankless task, one where perspiration is the only thing that will carry you beyond inspiration.

At the same time, I don’t shake in my shoes over the prospect of a machine fueled by artificial intelligence taking away all my work.

One reason is the abysmal spelling and grammar checker I use that insists on the British version of words like “neighbor” (trying to insert a “u”) or that “enroll” be spelled with one “l.” Or, that try to insert commas after a phrase regardless of the nuances of reading and sentence structure that ultimately determine whether a comma is appropriate.

Given the incessant technological developments of modern life, I’m sure that there will be improvements in AI to overcome such shortcomings. But I’m also sure that, given the need for human contact and interaction in the writing, editing and production process of preparing books, articles and website copy, there will always be a need for high-touch input.

After all, a robot may be able to bring you your evening slippers, but I can’t imagine a machine-like kiss will be very satisfying.


Ken Walker

An experienced freelance writer, co-author and book editor, Ken Walker edits blogs for several contributors to Church Central and has coached various bloggers for the site. A member of the Christian PEN (Proofreaders and Editors Network), he has co-authored, edited or contributed to more than 50 books. You can see samples of his work or ask about his services as a writing coach by going to http://www.KenWalkerWriter.com or by e-mailing kenwalker33@gmail.com.



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