The Bots Won. I'm Going Back to School and Changing Careers.
I graduated from university ELEVEN years ago ― but here we go again!
A few months ago, a Twitter friend shared that someone at her company had introduced AI to the content team. The company thought it would be interesting to see whether AI software could be helpful.
Last week, the company fired the person who introduced it. It was easier to pay the bot $29 per month than to pay the salary of an experienced copywriter.
Will the bots really replace content creators?
I don't think that bots can replace human creativity, but I do think it will take businesses a long time to learn the lesson. The companies replacing people will learn this the hard way. AI regurgitates information; it cannot create. It is also famous for plagiarizing itself, which I have seen firsthand.
These companies also forget that everyday people have access to AI just like they do. They are thinking:
Oh, I can just replace my copywriters with bots and publish low-quality articles as long as the keywords are in there. It doesn't matter. I’ll have free SEO!
These companies don’t seem to realize that search engine optimization (SEO) is also taking a hit. In the next few years, manual search engines will become less and less relevant. As will their generic AI-generated articles with keywords stuffed inside.
The companies that continue to build one-on-one relationships with their customers ― using great content ― are the ones that will thrive.
Does this mean an end to my life on the road?
Not if I can help it!
I first noticed client work had dipped last year. My client queues were empty, but I always had assignments. I'm a preferred writer for most of my clients, so they tend to reserve work for me. Sometimes, they will hold them all through my vacation so that it's still there when I return.
When I arrived in Spain, I noticed that even those reserved orders were down. After the second day, I called my mom and told her something was wrong. The following week, one of my clients shared that they were, in fact, receiving fewer orders. They cited AI as the reason.
Meanwhile, my dad was at Rice University, watching AI 3D print products and create marketing materials. When he returned home to Atlanta, he gave Mom a worried look. He shared what he had seen and admitted it was incredible to watch. But, he recognized that it meant I would likely be out of a job in the next few years.
I'm glad I caught this dip early.
Things have gotten worse. But because I saw it coming, it didn't quite catch me by surprise. I had paid down debt and started taking classes online to see what I felt comfortable studying.
The good thing is that writers like me will still have work and pay our bills. I’ve been doing this for 17 years. But, increasingly, we have to take on projects we would have declined just six months ago.
We got into this field to be creative. Most of the assignments left for us now are the work bots can't be trusted with because AI lies convincingly when it doesn't know the answer or understand a question. Sometimes, it lies just because.
Consequently, companies do not trust it to write content about tech, finance, and law ― which happen to be my areas of expertise.
Still, the day may come when AI finally takes that too.
Remember to support the creatives you love ― even if it isn’t me.
AI is replacing us.
Without your support, the day will come when we can no longer keep up with the bots “producing” content. It’s not just writers, either. All creatives are in a current panic. Over the past week, I have also heard from musicians, actors, models, and photographers who see the careers they love going up in flames.
To be clear, I don’t think AI is the bad guy. AI can be extremely helpful for creatives, especially for brainstorming or creating a lazy draft of art that professionals can polish. Sometimes, AI can help indie creatives “outsource” some jobs ― such as book covers for self-published books.
The issue is companies showing us for the millionth time that human creativity never really mattered. Automation was supposed to be for dangerous jobs and the things we hated to do. They spent years assuring us it would never replace human intellect ― only complement it. But so much for that.
Tech’s decision to automate the things people love was pure villainy.
Hilariously, tech CEOs now want to apply the brakes. Probably because AI is threatening their jobs too. AI allegedly makes better decisions than the world’s overpaid execs. For example, the Chinese company NetDragon Websoft saw its company valuation increase by 10% after appointing an AI as its CEO.
So, what am I studying, and what new career am I considering?
I have an associate's degree in the humanities and a bachelor's in business management. An MBA was tempting. I could have gone into financial advising, but I caught one glimpse of managerial accounting and got PTSD from college. That sobered me up real quick. If I later get into financial advising, I’m only doing certifications.
I looked at degrees in education, but teachers earn less money than I do. Why pay for a master's degree to be poorer and dodge bullets in a classroom? Even if I taught remotely, who knows when the day would come that I had to watch my students be shot like deer by some dude “having a bad day?” No thanks.
I then considered psychology ― my second love. But, it would take six years to complete the master's part-time. Bots aren't giving me six years to pivot. Whatever I decide to do, I need to finish within the next two years or less.
In a world where instant gratification is crucial, tech is the obvious answer. So here I am ― a former art student ― learning how to code in Python instead of arguing about the symbolism of the witches in Shakespeare’s Macbeth.
Worse things have happened in the world.
What I do know is that I intend to remain a nomad for as long as possible. I also plan to keep writing the things I love. Supplementing my writing work with a foot in tech means ― theoretically ― I won’t need to take assignments I hate in either field.
What university am I attending?
I reached out to several universities, mainly in New Mexico. As a resident, I could be eligible for the state’s free tuition program, but that doesn't apply to graduate and post-grad degrees. Nevertheless, New Mexico had the lowest tuition, even without state assistance.
Ultimately, I chose a tuition-free, online university based in California. It does have assessment fees, but they amount to a fraction of what I would pay elsewhere. The expected cost of my master's in tech is under $3,700.
Alexis Chateau | Free Ramen is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.
If you're a paid subscriber, I'll share more information about the university I chose next week. I'll answer some of the most common questions I had when I first discovered it and explain why I chose it over a traditional university.
PS:- Now that I’m back in school, I’ll be posting on COLLEGE MATE again soon.
See you next week!