Sadly, the people who are spending (and receiving) the huge sums of money to support the dehumanization of essay-grading are not the ones who will be swayed by an appeal to the humanities.
Once the use of automated essay grading becomes common knowledge, the implicit message will be hard to miss. For any self-aware, warm-blooded American teenager, the conclusion will be all but inescapable: Nobody cares what you have to say. It could be brilliant and moving; it could be word-salad or utter balderdash; it really doesn’t matter. Content, feeling, creativity, thematic depth – none of it matters. Today’s students will recognize this; they will react to it; and it will inform who they grow up to be. Indeed, I confess that if I were a teenager, my response would be the same as theirs – the selfsame response that we tend to associate with (and dismiss as just) teen angst. What is the point, after all, in being rewarded by a system that doesn’t care who you are? If no one is going to read the essays, we might as well rip them up. –