What did AI think of my recent article about AI?

In the process of writing A look at the past to see the future of technical writing, Adobe Acrobat’s AI assistant suggested that I ask it: Will AI completely replace human technical writers in the future?

What follows is the AI’s unedited 419-word answer to that question based on my 1,500-word article.

Based on the information provided in the document, it is unlikely that AI will completely replace human technical writers in the future. ​ Here are the reasons:

  1. Historical artifacts: The document mentions artifacts of technical writing from the past, such as a technical manual from 1952 and a technical manual from 1981. ​ These artifacts show that technical writing has evolved over time, but the method of explanation and the need for human touch in creating content have remained similar. ​ This suggests that human technical writers have a unique ability to understand and cater to the needs of their audience, which may not be easily replicated by AI. ​
  2. Audience preferences: The document emphasizes the importance of the audience in technical writing. ​ The audience drives everything, and their goals and incentives remain relatively constant as long as they are human. ​ While AI may assist in generating certain types of technical content, such as API reference topics, the document suggests that good reference topics still need a human touch. ​ Human technical writers are able to provide the best-quality content for the price, and AI-generated content may not be able to match the same level of quality and understanding of the audience’s needs. ​
  3. Balancing engineering and documentation: The document mentions that the current approach of having just enough engineering to produce a viable product accompanied by just enough documentation to make it usable is the most efficient way to create and document software products. ​ This suggests that the balance between engineering and documentation is important, and AI may not be able to fully replace the role of human technical writers in achieving this balance. ​
  4. Up-front design and documentation: The document suggests that for AI to completely replace human technical writers, it would require more up-front design and documentation than is currently produced. ​ The current approach of having technical writers document the product after it has been developed provides the most efficient way to create and document software products. ​ Until this balance changes, AI may only assist human technical writers in the process rather than completely replacing them. ​

In conclusion, while AI may play a role in assisting human technical writers in the future, it is unlikely to completely replace them. ​ The unique abilities of human technical writers to understand and cater to the needs of their audience, the importance of the human touch in creating content, and the need for a balance between engineering and documentation suggest that human technical writers will continue to be important in the field.

It’s weird to see my thoughts, but not in my words.

What do you think?

In an even more succinct version, the AI summarized the article down to these five main points in only 200-some words.

  1. Technical writing content has changed very little over the decades, with the subjects being the main difference. The method of explanation is likely to be similar to the past, as people learn in much the same way.
  2. Technical writing production has undergone significant changes since 1999. From printed manuals to online documentation, the production process has evolved with technology. Authoring systems have varied depending on the publishing and production systems in place.
  3. The audience for technical writing has remained relatively consistent in terms of goals and incentives. However, if AI becomes the primary means of accessing information, the audience may change, and it is difficult to predict what that would look like.
  4. Technical writers will likely continue to be needed, as the need for their expertise is unlikely to disappear. However, business decision makers may not be enthusiastic about paying for technical writing, and the cost of AI may still be prohibitive for everyday use.
  5. The writing aspects of technical writing will remain important, and knowing the audience and how to provide them with the information they need will continue to be crucial. The technical aspects of content and production will continue to change with technology.

Now, to decide if it’s helping or not.

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