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We asked AI to write a Tab Edi article and here’s what it came up with

Let’s not make the joke that it’s a vast improvement


In a seminar the other day, my peer showed me a picture of Biden and Putin holding a piece of art. It took me a second to process that it wasn’t real. He had constructed it using AI, simply telling the software what he wanted to see and in exactly what style.

It turns out you can do the same thing for writing. And I mean any kind of writing, from essays, articles, news, copywriting, scripts – and even an article which mimics the style of The Tab Edinburgh. There’s a lot of debate on whether AI writing is good or bad, with lots of concern among teachers that students will be able to fake essays and dissertations. As a very technically-challenged writer, I decided to see what all the fuss is about.

Luckily for me, all you have to do is tell the AI what to do. The more specific you get, the better the writing becomes. So, I got specific. I told the AI to write articles for The Tab Edinburgh.

 

Here’s a short extract of what the AI wrote when I asked it to write “a funny features article for The Tab Edinburgh”:

Edinburgh University Students are Shocked as They Discover Scotland has a Summer

It’s a well-known fact that Edinburgh students are experts at surviving Scotland’s harsh winter weather, but it seems they were completely unprepared for the surprise of Scotland actually having a summer.

Yes, you heard that right! Scotland has a summer. Who would have thought?

As the sun started to make a rare appearance, students were caught off guard and were seen running around in circles, trying to figure out what to do. It was as if they had never seen the sun before.

Interesting that it’s gone straight for the weather. Also interesting that it’s immediately bitterly sarcastic when I asked for funny.

Interesting that it’s gone straight for the weather. Also interesting that it’s immediately bitterly sarcastic when I asked for funny.

It also clocked Edinburgh student stereotypes pretty well when I asked it to write an opinion piece about the types of Edinburgh students:

  1. The Tourist: This student is all about exploring the city and taking in its historical and cultural landmarks. They can often be found taking selfies in front of Edinburgh Castle or wandering the Royal Mile.
  2. The Partier: Edinburgh is well known for its nightlife and this student takes full advantage of it. They can often be found in the city’s bars, clubs, and pubs, partying until the early hours of the morning.
  3. The Brainiac: This student takes their studies very seriously and can often be found buried in textbooks in the library. They excel academically and have a strong focus on achieving high grades.
  4. The Political Activist: Edinburgh is a hotbed of political activism and this student is right in the thick of it. They are passionate about social justice issues and can often be found at demonstrations and rallies.

I then narrowed things down and that’s when it started to get really crazy. I told the AI to “write a funny opinion piece about the strikes in the style of The Tab Edinburgh”. This is what it came up with:

Ladies and Gentlemen, we have a problem. A big, hairy, troublesome problem that has been plaguing our campuses and making our days miserable. We’re talking, of course, about the strikes.

Now, we at The Tab Edinburgh are not known for being serious. In fact, we revel in the absurdity of life and all its quirks. So, we decided to approach this strike situation with a little humor.

First of all, let’s talk about the noise. The picket lines, the chanting, the banging of drums. It’s like an impromptu percussion concert, and honestly, we’re not mad about it. The only thing that could make this better is if they started playing “The Final Countdown”.

Secondly, let’s talk about the food. With so many classes being cancelled, we now have more time to dedicate to our favorite pastime: eating. But, with all the picketers around campus, it’s getting hard to find a quiet place to chow down. We recommend bringing a picnic blanket and a basket of treats and finding a quiet corner to enjoy your lunch in peace.

Finally, let’s talk about the picketers themselves. These brave souls have dedicated their time and energy to fighting for their rights. We at The Tab Edinburgh salute their commitment to the cause and would like to offer a round of applause.

I did start to sweat as the AI started this. Apart from a few cringey and robotic phrases, the style is pretty spot-on. I’m pretty sure that it even references the student-eating spot picnic blanket. It also seems to recognise that funny and informal commentary is often used in Tab Edi opinion pieces. A few changes to wording and phrasing, and this would easily end up on our website.

This is how (worryingly) easy AI writing tools are to use

So, what does this all mean? Is there really any point in us welcoming new writers when all we need is to ask AI to do the writing for us without needing to check spelling or grammar? It could mean that there will be a time when we rely fully on AI to get all our information without human input.

University tutors certainly seem worried. If students can literally write a dissertation complete with footnotes with just the click of a few buttons, it raises the question of whether academic writing (or more importantly, Tab writing, right?) will even exist in the future.

Related stories recommended by this writer:

• Edinburgh University staff to strike for 18 days between February and March

• Over a fifth of Edinburgh students say they are addicted to Elf Bars