Being replaced by a machine is a common fear several generations share. Technical writers included. And, it feels like now is the perfect time to re-evaluate the chances. Especially, since we seem kind of close to a real breakthrough with AI. However, this is not a brand new feeling.
Will AI Conquer Planet Earth?
The history of AI began in 1956 when the term ‘artificial intelligence’ was coined. And, scientists were quite optimistic about creating AI at that time.
A lot of resources were invested. The AI researchers received government funding. But, the progress was poor. In reality, the robots that were supposed to be intelligent had to be manually programmed. And, all they did was strictly within the programming boundaries. That didn’t feel right at all. So, the end of the 70s brought the so-called ‘AI Winter’. Most fundings were cut off as the interest in this idea was fading rapidly.
And this was not the only winter this field was doomed to face. The question of creating an intelligent being appeared much more complex than previously thought.
Up till this day, we don’t have this breakthrough technology philosophers and sci-fi writers dreamed about. But there are things simpler than AI, and they are taking jobs from humans indeed. Automation is one of them. Many jobs are at risk. We are not talking about just factories anymore — so much can be automated. What about technical writing though? How scared should we be?
All Things Considered
Well, actually, not that scared. Yet 🙂
Creating user manuals is often a repetitive process, but no automation can replace a technical writer. One reason for that being — a lot of planning that has to be done prior to the writing itself. Strategic thinking is what is required. A human brain is flexible and perfect for that. Goal setting is one more thing that humans can do better, at least for now.
Technical writing is actually a form of communication. When you write help topics, you are talking to the readers, virtually. Understanding who these people are and finding the best ways to explain things to them is not an easy task for a computer.
One more thing is gathering and analyzing feedback which is crucial for maintenance of technical docs and is still a weak spot for our PCs.
And, how would robots communicate with subject matter experts? Or with any other teams for that matter? There’s certainly no simple solution to that.
All things considered, this looks like an all clear!
However technical help authoring may seem, it is actually pretty creative. We believe that any techcomm specialist has a right to be called a real author! If you wonder why that is, check out the following article.
Until the computers are intricate enough to be able to consider all the humanly factors important for good user manuals, there’s no way technical writers will lose their jobs to machines.
Besides, technical writing itself has been trying to be more human recently. And, if this trend continues it will be much harder for AI to creep in!
Good luck with your technical writing!
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