How to skill up in writing for machines

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Writing for machines on laptop

The rise of artificial intelligence (AI) in enterprise means that writing for humans increasingly means writing for the machines that deliver the information. AIs – through chatbots, voice-activated assistants such as Siri or Alexa, or other digital communications tech – are delivering information on demand to real people to satisfy different information needs across a range of potential contexts.

AI: the next big tech trend

chatbot animation

The trend towards AI is well documented in the field of digital communications. A BrightEdge survey of 500 search, content, and digital marketers identified the top three next big marketing trends as: consumer personalization (29%), AI (26%) and voice search (21.23%), suggesting a shift towards AI-first marketing. Voice assistants are already popular and being used in a range of consumer products (in the US, 46% of adults said they now use voice apps to interact with smartphones and other devices.

When it comes to jobs, studying AI could prove useful indeed. Stanford University’s AI index found that job openings requiring machine learning and deep learning skills on, more than doubled from 2016-17.

And if AI isn’t on your business agenda yet, it’s coming. According to Adobe’s 2018 Digital Trends survey of 13,000 executives, just 15% of organisations are using AI at present, but 31% said it is on their agenda for the next 12 months.

Job skills in AI

technology writeboard

Employers increasingly want people with skills in AI and automated information provision and delivery. So who plans and writes content for chatbots and voice interfaces such as Siri and Google Assistant?

We think many of our techcomm readers, content professionals and information designers could develop this skillset, and potentially open up a whole new career option beyond traditional content delivery models.

Toni Byrd Ressaire is an example of someone who has made the transition. Toni, who spent many years in techcomm, has moved fully into helping companies harness what she calls ‘frontier technologies’. Through her company, Info4Design, she provides consulting and training for information development for AI devices, chatbots, automation and future technologies. Earlier this year she talked to Firehead about one growth area in particular: chatbot conversation design (Interview with a Chatbot Conversation Designer/February 2019).

She said: “The need for content designers in this field will grow exponentially over the next five to 10 years. As companies need to move their content into artificially intelligent systems, they’ll need content creators who understand the environment.”

Training in writing for machines

CJ Walker, Firehead’s founder and managing director, has been aware of and preparing for this trend for a while. In 2016 she partnered with Toni Resssaire to develop and deliver university courses aimed at helping students prepare for the challenges of machine-human content development and Information 4.0 (read our primer on Info4.0).

But for those who already working in the digital communications industry, Toni and CJ are developing a brand new course called ‘Writing for machines and humans’.

The training is for digital communicators who want to develop skills in writing for machines driven by artificial intelligence.

This training, delivered live online or in a classroom environment, is suitable for:

  • technical writers, information developers and content creators who want to learn how to write for AI
  • information designers who want to learn about information design for smart systems
  • content strategists, content strategists and product managers who want to understand the implications of AI for information and content.

Get in touch to find out more.

Laptop writer image (CC) by StockSnap; Writeboard image (CC) by LTDatEHU; Chatbot image (CC) by Mohamed Hassan, all via Pixabay.

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