Published: July 7, 2018

Alibaba Says Its AI Copywriting Tool Passed the Turing Test

It's generating copy for sites like Taobao and Tmall

Alimama, the digital marketing arm of ecommerce platform Alibaba, has released an artificial-intelligence-enabled Chinese language copywriting tool that it says passed the Turing test and can produce 20,000 lines of copy a second.

It wasn’t clear if Alimama actually conducted a Turing test—in which humans judged whether copy came from a person or AI—or if Alimama means more generally that its AI-generated copy sounds like it was written by a person. (But, if it did, it would join an elite club with just a few members, including computer program Eugene Goostman, which simulates a 13-year-old boy, and possibly Google’s appointment-booking voice technology Duplex.)

Alibaba wouldn’t provide any details about how the test was conducted as a company rep declined to comment on the record.

In a blog post, Alimama said its AI copywriter uses deep learning and natural language processing to learn from “millions of top-quality existing samples [on ecommerce sites Tmall and Taobao] to generate copy.”

To use the AI copywriter, brands insert a link to a product page and click the “Produce Smart Copy” button for suggestions. They can adjust the length and tone with options like promotional, functional, fun, poetic or heartwarming. Alimama said the tool is used an average of “nearly a million times a day” on Taobao and Tmall as well as fashion flash sales website and Chinese language wholesale site The post cited clothing brands Esprit and Dickies as users.

Alimama stressed efficiency, saying “copywriting involves a certain degree of repetitive, low-value work that can be made more efficient” as a single product might require up to 10 versions of copy for different ad formats.

“For merchants … AI can take care of a portion of their copywriting needs. And it significantly changes the way [copywriters] work: They will shift from thinking up copy—one line at a time—to choosing the best out of many machine-generated options, largely improving efficiency,” Alimama said in the post.

Christina Lu, general manager of Alimama marketing, added this “allows people to devote more energy to richly creative work.”

ShaoZhang Ding, head of ecommerce for the Asia Pacific market at Esprit, for one, agreed.

“Based on a massive database of existing copy and advanced AI technologies, the tool can reduce the repetitive and tedious copywriting workload for our teams,” he said in the post.

Alibaba says its AI copy generator is used "nearly a million times a day" to create copy.  Alibaba

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