The digital landscape is evolving, and rapidly. We are navigating through the new digital landscape, feeling the uncertainty of what will happen to our field of expertise. Is technical writing immune to transformation? Will Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Automation, and other trends change, or even minimize the future of technical writing?
In a world where machines are increasingly intelligent, but in some cases still really dumb - how should technical writing adapt to this?
Will AI replace all need for technical writing? The potential is remarkable, that is true. AI could automate repetitive writing tasks, thereby freeing up technical writers to focus on more cr
eative and complex tasks. For example, the Natural Language Generation (NLG), an AI technology, will most likely create comprehensive first drafts of manuals or guides, thereby simplifying the technical writing process.
As a comparison, let's have a look at translations. Our clients today either translate internally, use Google translate (or similar) or use a professional translation agency (with or without an enabled translation memory). Some clients want the job done quick and dirty, they will most likely be very interested in having AI writing the technical documentation as well. We as proud Tech writers tend to promote using a translation agency with a translation memory. It is an investment, but in the long run the quality and speed and cost of translation is the most beneficial. I see the same perspective when it comes to AI and Tech writing as well. Some clients will use the automated digital solutions, and fully trust the outcome to be good enough, and some clients will see the need to have an expert like us working with the documentation.
Of course, we as Tech writers should embrace the new possibilities, and adapt to them. Our task will be to review the output, use our common sense and knowledge of norms and standards to adapt the output. We also need to ensure that the output from e.g. Chat GPT is not using any misinformation, or using any protected corporate information. We need to be very aware of the quality of the data, can we trust where the data comes from, and can we trust the data itself? We also need to be very aware of how we share the data we are responsible for, and our clients data.
AI also has the potential to learn from user behavior and provide personalized content, tailoring information to the specific needs of the user. This way, technical documents can become more user-centric, increasing readability and comprehension.
The future of technical writing is exciting. As technical writers, we have the opportunity to redefine our roles and transform the way users interact with technical content.
Our advice to you: Be aware, follow the trends, try out the new possibilities. But use your common sense. The world will change, but the world will still need Tech writers.
Written by: Johanna Hansen