WILL ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE
REPLACE HUMAN EDITORS?

To spoil the surprise for you, the answer appears to be no. Not yet.

Zoho Writer is actually a very good online word processor, which Dr. Boli mentions because has no wish for Zoho, by all accounts an honest and upstanding Indian company, to suffer on account of anything he is about to say.

But when you are advertising your advanced artificial-intelligence capabilities, you ought to have someone outside the coding pit check to make sure that your AI assistant is not in fact as dumb as a box of rocks.

Writer comes with Zia—an AI assistant trained to help you improve your writing. It understands the context of your sentences and comes up with grammar, readability, and style suggestions to further polish your piece.

Sounds swell! Now look at the screenshot. (You can click on it to enlarge it.) This is not text Dr. Boli made up to put Zia through her paces. This is the screenshot Zoho published as a demonstration of Zia’s advanced artificial intelligence.

Zoho-screenshot

In this text, Zia has made two suggestions (three if we count underlining the “of”’ after “due”). Of those, one is completely wrong. Adverbs of frequency do in fact usually come before a simple verb, though you can probably think of a dozen exceptions before you finish reading this sentence. (“Do you come here often?”) However, the usual placement in a compound verb is between the auxiliary and the main verb. The original text is correct: “She has always been” is much more natural than “She always has been,” though the latter may be used to emphasize the “has.”

Now read that original text, and you will find a few questionable things that Zia has not flagged. Among them: the incomprehensible phrase “tour of visiting us,” the Donald-Trump-style capitalization of “Airport,” the missing “up” in the expression “to pick her,” the extra space between “was” and “from” at the beginning of the second paragraph, the un-English relative clause (“who could speak” where “and could speak” would be the English norm), “spain” and “spanish” without capitals, the un-English article in “had a lunch,” the missing article in “having amazing day,” the missing apostrophe in “Its,” and of course the non-native expressions throughout, which (to be fair) might be natural to a speaker of Indian English. Dr. Boli may have missed a few, but this is a very good list for nine lines of text. In nine lines with at least twelve obvious errors, Zia has flagged two and has flagged one correct expression as wrong.

Once again, Dr. Boli has decided to wait a little longer before he has a fit of panic about the coming artificial-intelligence apocalypse.

Comments

  1. KevinT says:

    One of my personal peeves: the use of “that” instead of “who” in “everyone…THAT is in our family…”

    • Dr. Boli says:

      At least that one can be justified by appeal to authority: “euery one that is cleane in thy house, shall eate of it” (Numbers 18:11); “Behold, I will doe a thing in Israel, at which, both the eares of euery one that heareth it, shall tingle” (1 Samuel 3:11).

  2. Occasional Correspondent says:

    You should be in a panic.  The AI apocalypse is not just when AI takes over from humans, it is when AI takes over from humans no matter how unready, no matter how inferior, because COMPUTERS!  It is AI alchemy: garbage in, gold out, transmutation by algorithm.  Some may recognize this gigo as a model of some long standing. 

    Worse is to come.  Shortly after the AI apocalypse, AI output will become the Standard (New! Improved!), and “AI” will become “SI”, Superior Intelligence, and human editors and curators who differ will be Wrong, and we will live our lives up to our armpits in garbage.

    Powered flight into ground, controlled flight into terrain — happens to societies as well as to aircraft.  E-ticket ride! Seatbelts optional!

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