When I was 12, I watched the 80s sci-fi movie D.A.R.Y.L. (“Data-Analyzing Robot Youth Lifeform”… get it?) over at a friend’s traditional Asian household with his older brother, who was an accomplished violin virtuoso. I remember one scene where Daryl, a lifelike child robot powered by A.I., sat down at the piano and played… beautifully. “Daryl could never play that well in real life,” my friend’s brother sniffed. “He’s a robot… he could play the notes, but he could never play with emotion.”
The D.A.R.Y.L. scene and commentary replayed in my mind recently upon receiving an email from a keyword research company clobbering me over the head with “Buy Now!!!” sales copy about their new product: A software that can allegedly write highly effective copy.
“Complete Sales Messages In Under 90 Minutes!” It promised. “Users typically finish their first income-generating video sales message in 90 minutes – with absolutely no copywriting experience.”
As a writer, I immediately took offense: They’re saying a robot can do my job! I flashed back to D.A.R.Y.L., and started wondering… is it possible? Robots are amazing: They can vacuum floors, perform surgery and even explore distant planets!
I decided to investigate.
(though I daresay A.I.-powered sexy chatbots could easily surpass the writing quality of 50 Shades of Gray).
But let’s be clear: Robots will never be able to write well, because writing, in its purest incarnation, is a creative art form.
Nutritional supplement copywriting, in particular, takes a deft touch. In order to sell any natural health modality or product, we must connect with the reader’s feelings, fears, hopes and dreams.
Real writing requires something A.I. will never have: Feelings.
The same goes for painting, dancing, acting, and music. Any creative art, and those dummy stupid-head robots will fail.
Way back in 1987, my friend’s brother had been spot on about D.A.R.Y.L. and A.I. of the future:
Robots can play, but they cannot play with emotion.
Here’s what it sounds like.
Exhibit A.: Chopin – Nocturne No. 13 in C minor, Opus 48 No. 1
A damned dirty robot, ruining beautiful Chopin.
So clumsy! So devoid of finesse or style! Just a lifeless rendering of notes, like a player piano reeling through its scroll.
You can almost hear the robot saying, “CHOPIN SHEET MUSIC IS DATA. WILL PROCESS DATA. WILL TRANSLATE DATA ACCURATELY INTO APPROPRIATE NOTES. BEEP BOOP BEEP BOOP.”
(OK, maybe robots don’t say “beep boop” but they definitely think in all caps)
Human Valentina Lesitsa, playing the same.
So different. the Machine and Ms. Lesitsa the same? Taking “data” (the sheet music) and translating it into sound, using the physical tools at hand.
Yet their sound could not be any different. The reason why is best expressed at the 5:00 mark of Ms. Lesitsa’s video. It’s much better in the context of the performance, but in a nutshell:
She’s pouring her soul into her performance. Robots can’t do that.
Robots don’t have souls.
And why? Because as the plays, Ms. Lesitsa feels. She feels something Frédéric Chopin once felt, and mingles that with what she feels. and bringing him to life once again. She mingles his brilliance with her own artistry; her own interpretation.
Deeper still, she is extending far into the Astral Plane, tapping into the infinite energy of the universe and pulling out something divine.
At the risk of mixing composer metaphors, Ms. Lesitsa becomes a mouthpiece for The Voice of God.
Is it any wonder that by the end, Ms. Lesitsa looks like this?
Exhausted. Drained. Slumped. She’s put every ounce of her mana into her performance.
It would be fitting for an assistant to emerge, drape a cape over her shoulders like James Brown, and help her off the stage.
What I am trying to express, I suppose, is that…
Robots will always fail at art because they don’t have souls.
There, I said it.
Robots cannot be creative. They will never be inspired by a muse. They will never suffer to sing the blues.
They might be able to muster a clumsy and soulless “performance.” But never will they be able to pour their soul into the music and leave it on the stage, as Ms. Lesitsa or James Brown. This is a human condition.
Ergooooooo, any software that claims it can “write” compelling sales copy is a joke.
And remember: Some of y’all “writers” are robots, too.
Any performing monkey can mine data from wikipedia, rearrange it, swap in a few synonyms and call it a day. That’s A.I.-grade writing.
Sure, it’s cheap, easy and plentiful. But it’s also mindless and soulless, and and quite frankly, it stinks.
The Google knows the difference. Your audience knows, too.
If your health message matters, you need a nutritional supplement copywriter who will give you a part of his soul.
Who, at the end of the performance, will be slumped over the keyboard in exhaustion, just as Ms. Letista is slumped over her keys above.
The difference in the finished product will be clear: More than merely words strung together into lifeless copy, you will possess writing as art that is a piece of the divine.
Robots can’t play Chopin.
And they sure as hell can’t write great copy.
Memo to all robots: Step away from the keyboard and get back to vacuuming my floors.
~ P.J.S. the N.H.W.
P.S. As you may have guessed, The Natural Health Writer is obsessed with Chopin Nocturnes. It’s better than chocolate. Listen to the Nocturnes once, all the way through, and they will unlock and open doors in your mind that will never close again. As you listen, you will feel your brain cells perking up, making new connections, flexing and reorganizing like cosmic antennae orienting to a higher power.
There are many who play Chopin Nocturnes, but in my opinion, Brigitte Engerer is best.