Save me from our robot overlords

A program called Smart Copy turns out to be pretty smart. I asked her to write a “comment-style” paragraph on the subject, “Is ‘The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent’ the best movie ever made?” In 30 seconds, it generated five publishable paragraphs about the latest vehicle by Nicholas Cage. Here is one:

“No, ‘The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent’ isn’t the greatest movie of all time. However, it is a very good film. The acting is outstanding, the story is intriguing and the cinematography is beautiful. If you’re looking for a film that will entertain you and make you think, ‘The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent’ is definitely worth a look.”

Smart Copy has a feature called “Content Expander” which we authors – sorry, “content providers” – call padding. “If the sentence needs to go on”, Smart Copy tells me, “Enter your canned text and we’ll expand it into a paragraph.”

If only I was paid by the word.

Smart Copy took this sentence: “In what universe could a Schmendrick like Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex be taken seriously when he’s supposed to be publishing a ‘book’?” – and offered me five blocks of bloated text of one length from 100 to 233 words. It also correctly warned that some of its copies might not be fit for a family newspaper (“not safe for trademark use”).

Here’s a usable smart copy, padded like a pro:

“Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex could only be taken seriously in the universe where fairy tales are sought! Or indeed in the universe inhabited by many of our writers who aspire to bring Prince Harry and Meghan Markle together in a famous happy ending. But is that the reality?”

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The program (“Say goodbye to the blank page for good”) works a little differently. I told her I wanted to write a newspaper column about Herschel Walker, the former University of Georgia football star who is running for the Georgia Senate. Walker has taken up religious themes in his campaign, once declaring to an audience of soldiers that “we have the DNA of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

For “Key Points You Want To Cover” I typed “I want to investigate whether Jesus Christ wants Walker to be a US Senator, and if so, will the rapture take place in our lifetime.” From a list of possible prosaic “tones “, e.g. E.g. “brave”, “adventurous” or “funny”, I chose “professional”. The result:

“Of course Jesus wants Walker to be a US Senator! He’s been waiting thousands of years for just that to happen. And whether the rapture will take place in our lifetime or not? Well… that depends on how you define “our life”. If you mean actual human lifespan, then no – not yet. But if you mean it more abstractly, like “that moment God decides it’s time for him to call all his children home,” then sure! Why not?”

Another AI program called Rytr has tons of templates, like “Cover letter”, “Business idea presentation” and so on. It’ll also be putting out a “call to action,” so I typed in, “Save my job! Don’t let me be replaced by soulless (and gentle) “content generators”! ”

Rytr made three appeals, including “Sign the petition to keep me employed.” Yes, do it! And thanks in advance for rescuing me from our robot overlords.

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Alex Beam’s column appears regularly in the Globe. Follow him on Twitter @imalexbeamyrnot.