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Technical Writing
April 13, 2023
xx min read

Artificial Intelligence and The Future of Technical Writing

In a recent Content and Coffee episode, “Is ChatGPT Going to Take my Technical Writing Job?”,  Patrick Bosek, CEO at Heretto, Scott Abel, Content Evangelist at Heretto and Content Wrangler, and Mike Iantosca, Sr. Director of Content Platforms at Avalara, discussed whether AI would take over technical writing jobs in the near future.

The conversation sparked an engaging discussion on ChatGPT, large language models, AI co-pilots, content generation, and how AI will impact both organizations and individuals.

The major takeaway

Although AI advancements are both exciting and intimidating, we must recognize that technical writers play a crucial role in this phase. They will create, curate and verify much of the industry-specific content driving the next generation of AI systems.

Our speakers reiterated some key insights for those wondering about the future of AI in technical writing:

1. Current AI is highly limited in mission-critical applications

While AI is evolving rapidly, today's systems are still not sophisticated enough to replace humans in mission-critical applications nor will they be in the near future.

If you write documentation in industries such as software, finance, medicine, or manufacturing, you may need to be ready for more work, not less.

Why? Because AI models like ChatGPT are only as good as the data they have access to. They don’t think, infer or reason the way an AGI (artificial general intelligence) we see in the movies would.

These systems are the best auto-complete tools users have ever had. They are trained on how to respond by consuming vast amounts of curated text. This gives technical writers a huge advantage in how we use these new tools and how we make them better.

2. Content creation and curation skills will become more important, not less for technical writers

The growing adoption of AI will likely create a surge in demand for skilled writers, content strategists, and information architects.

These skills are vital for creating what we at Heretto call "intelligent content" or "structured content". The demand for structured content will keep growing as intelligent systems depend on high-quality sources of knowledge to function.

3. AI will (probably) make all our jobs better and more fun

Intelligent content creators will increasingly use AI to help them do their jobs, by optimizing their work processes and ability to gain valuable insights.

Imagine always having a colleague you can bounce ideas off of, ask how they would write about a certain topic, or help generate content based on your existing notes.

You may not spend as much time physically writing, but more time thinking about what to write, how to write it, and curating the generated content.

If you enjoy the process of writing, there will still be plenty of that. Instead, AI's role will be to shift technical writers' focus towards high-value tasks instead of replacing them.

4. The rise of information governance in the AI era

“How do we know information is accurate?” is an age-old problem that persists in today's digital world. Unfortunately, as AI becomes more widespread, it will only become more important.

We will see a growing need for tools and professionals who understand the new lifecycle of information and the critical role of governance.

Technical writers will play a vital part in ensuring that AI systems are trained on relevant terminology and creating documentation for new products and services.

In summary, do not fret. We – along with other experts – believe that the future of technical writing is not about AI taking over jobs. Instead, technical writers will leverage AI to enhance their work.

Skilled content creators and strategists will rise in demand in the AI era, placing technical writers in a unique and indispensable position. By embracing AI as an optimization tool, technical writers will continue to thrive in today's AI-driven world.

Still have questions about AI?

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