AI Tools for Writing: What do Professional Writers Really Want?

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July 8, 2022

As artificial intelligence tools continue to be developed and improved, its progress is also matched with questioning which tools are wanted and needed versus the importance of humans carrying out the work without the use of AI. AI-assisted writing in particular has had a lot of success in its development, but can it match the quality of professional writers, do they actually want to use AI-driven writing tools, and to what extent are these tools useful? These are some of the questions Master’s student Oloff C. Biermann, Postdoctoral fellow Ning F. Ma, and Assistant Professor Dr. Dongwook Yoon (CAIDA Member) sought to answer through their recent qualitative study.  Their work was published by the title “From Tool to Companion: Storywriters Want AI Writers to Respect Their Personal Values and Writing Strategies” and it received an Honourable Mention award at the Designing Interactive Systems (DIS) 2022 Conference.  

Their work came to the conclusion that hobbyist and professional writers have different wants from the use of AI tools. “They [the hobbyists] don't really want AI to take over their writing,” Oloff said. “They mostly want AI tools to act only like an assistant for them. But the professional writers who want to be productive in their writing, they welcome AI to do the writing for them in order to help them make more money.”  One thing both groups of writers had in common, however, was the desire to ensure that the ideas and creativity remained entirely their role, and there was a strong hesitancy to losing any of their integrity as an author for the sake of productivity.  This work shows that while these tools can be very beneficial to satisfy an assistant or ghost writer role, writing is an art as well as a skill and writers do not want to lose freedom or the pride it gives them, whether practicing as a professional or a hobbyist.

To learn more about this study, you can read the full article here or the original paper here.

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