29 Jun Discussion
More than 2500 technical writers discuss professional topics weekly in TWT WhatsApp and Telegram groups. Here is a sneak peek of the discussion that happened on March 5, 2023.
“Heard about self-driven cars? Drivers are scared. Heard about any application or app that can generate documentation about steps as is when integrated into a software? TWs scared? Or nothing to be bothered? What’s your take on it?”
As we all know that with the advancement of technology, human beings channelize their effort to invent more technologies to simulate human intelligence. Artificial Intelligence or AI is a type of technology that simulates human intelligence to perform certain tasks. Previously, people used AI to search images using Google Lens, instruct Siri to perform some tasks and so on. Software industry witnessed the revolution of AI and Machine Learning. OpenAI launched AI based chatbot ‘ChatGPT’ on November 30, 2022 which can generate texts. It is created to make a conversation with the end user.
Honey Jain: There are existing tools for a lot of things that writers do as part of their jobs, such as Grammarly for editors, text to speech tools for videos, templates for word documents, templates for promos, among others. But we still need human intervention for a lot of stuff. There are tools available for localisation also, but we still have localisation teams. So in my opinion, there might be some parts that might get automated, but we will still need humans to do stuff. Until we come to a time where machines take over.
Uma Maheshwar: Yes. SAP Enable Now automatically generates the documentation, based on the simulated steps, though I am yet to explore this tool completely. You can generate videos, e-learning documentation and other content for SAP applications. Of course, this tool works only with SAP applications. I will come out with more information in the coming days.
Ravi Teja: Tools like such will keep coming and we need to evolve along with technology. Maybe the way Technical writing is executed has to be changed. It should be future-proof, something like our works should stay near the ‘back-end’, so that we are really ‘Technical’ writers.
Anirban Dutta: ChatGPT can give options but without tech writer’s involvement, the delivery quality will be compromised.
Amol Ketkar: It’s too early to say on this. One cannot enforce implementation of AI top notch systems to each area of work or life. If that starts to happen then it’s greed going in the wrong direction. Any usage that requires art of doing something, will require human intervention with.
Indranil Sen: You are talking about documentation – Dal-E, another AI driven tool in the ChatGPT family, can create stunning graphic pieces that can match the expertise of a designer having experience of over 10 years! AI driven tools will be able to automate many tasks ranging from programming to design to documentation. This might also open new vistas that we are not yet in a position to conceive.
Let’s not worry much and concentrate on what we have on our plate currently, keeping a close watch on how the world in general and the technology space in particular evolves in the days to come.
Coming back to the Tech Writing domain, I think our output will be less and less text-heavy in the days ahead. The focus will shift more towards presentation slides, instruction videos, handy cheat sheets etc.
User manuals will not die perhaps. They will be part of the Knowledge archive. People seeking deeper knowledge and understanding will refer to it. This is analogically similar to scholars digging through books in the National Library. And National Library and such scholars do exist even today though we are in the 5G and smartphone era. Technology tools are enablers. But we humans have to have the ability to think clearly ‘what we want’ or ‘what we want to achieve’. Tools can do the heavy lifting but ideation is your responsibility.
Punit Srivastava: The Scenario mentions an example. The steps written are as good as a TW will write. So I think the stage in this Q is tools being beyond enablers.
Lingesh: If the documentation is automated, don’t we need someone to manually review them and sign off?
Ravi Dhumane: AI will take away a few jobs. For example, with the advent of online applications and apps, data-entry jobs vanished and we no longer have jobs that can be done by the people with the same or similar skill sets. But just like the chat bots that handover tasks to human agents, the AI-based tools will have limiting behaviour and will require human agents to intervene. The agents will require a very high level of business and application understanding to resolve the user queries.
Akash: When we say self-driven cars, who is taking the accountability of risk of accidents. The AI or the human who owns the car?
IMO, the AI will always be an assistant that makes tasks happen faster, and donkey-work is redundant. But how well it will help in mitigating the risks of inaccurate content or what we saw in yesterday’s conf, being empathetic towards users. AI will always have limitations that humans are needed to overcome. As a writer, we should upskill to be more than just a content creator.
“The only reason for being a professional writer is that you can't help it.”
- Leo Rosten