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AI is good for writing dull texts that won’t be read

I enjoyed this piece by Cory Doctorow on getting AI to write a threatening lawyer’s letter. Of course, there are lots of times we have to write onerous, meaningless things that probably won’t be read in full. These writing rituals simply signal something to the intended reader. I mean business or I’m willing to go through this process in order to gain something etc.

My wife is currently applying for jobs. Job application forms are notoriously tortuous: demonstrate how you meet these 17 requirements, most of which are formulations of “behaviours” (resilience, flexibility, creativity et bleeding cetera) or a set of “values”. Demonstrate the ability to enable colleagues to creatively demonstrate resilience – that kind of thing. 17 times. Because everyone goes around demonstrating and enabling the values of their next employer all day long.

Some organisations do get this right by asking for a CV and a cover letter of no longer than a few hundred words, having listed what the job entails. But not the sector my wife works in. What makes it worse is that in the resulting interview, often the employer hasn’t read the applicant’s novella.

Enter AI. Write me a job application cover letter that covers these 17 points. I am a gardener with 25 years’ experience working in council-run parks. Copy and paste the job requirements – et voila! – one near-perfectly formed application for just 1% of the misery. Stir in a few names and places and you’re done. Repeat 30 times a week. Deflate at the other end with the same AI bot.