As consumer and corporate interest in artificial intelligence has grown, the number of companies purporting to offer AI-powered software has exploded. Microsoft has a web page devoted to the various ways it has baked AI into Office and Bing. Products like Topaz Video Enhance AI offer new tools for improving video content. Even NASA has recruited citizen scientists to help improve Perseverance’s image recognition algorithms.
One area where AI tools now claim to offer far better performance than in the past is automated text generation. The idea is that because these tools are powered by various neural nets, they can compose better and more humanlike prose than ever before — to the point of sometimes being indistinguishable from human writing. One of these relatively new tools is an app called Rytr. Rytr bills itself as “A better, 10x faster way to write,” and claims “2,500,000+ hours and $50 million+ saved in content writing so far.” According to Rytr’s splash page, customers can use its software to automatically generate “catchy, original, and high-converting copies in popular tones & languages in just a few seconds. Just pick a use case, enter some context, and boom…your copy is ready!” It also says, further down, that a writer using Rytr can produce a thousand-word document in fifteen minutes. This is a testable claim, and worth investigating. So we shelled out for the app’s unlimited-use monthly plan, to see what we could make of all these promises. Rytr’s pricing structure. Once logged in, we were able to start a new document and put the AI to use within seconds. When creating a new document or section, Rytr offers a wide selection of use cases, including bullet-point outlines, blog sections, interview questions, product reviews and testimonials, marketing content, and many others. It even has a use case for generating song lyrics. From another drop-down menu, the writer can choose the tone in which Rytr will phrase the content it generates using descriptive terms like awestruck, joyful, informative, worried, and funny. It’s easy, but not necessary, to guide the AI a bit by writing a few words or sentences in a blank document, and then invoking Rytr’s assistance. Rytr does not specifically claim that its service can generate factually accurate writing, but many of the categories it lists (excerpted above) require accurate text in order to be useful to potential customers. An AI that can’t write factually accurate content isn’t useful in many instances. When choosing the use case and tone, the writer also provides some “seed text” that the AI will use to find and generate its own content. The seed text often includes a title, description, and a field for the user to enter as many relevant keywords as they can fit within the character limit. Once you tell the AI what you want it to do, you can even ask it to provide you a few variations on the same theme. And it can handle natural-language queries, to a point. Ask it to write […]