Artificial intelligence- although a great development- continues to cause worries across career paths. This now includes the publishing industry. The rise of AI has introduced a new trend in the literary world – AI-generated books. This has created a mix of emotions among authors, readers, and publishing platforms alike.
Rory Cellan-Jones, a writer-journalist, was surprised to find a biography about him on Amazon. The book, which he had not authored, featured a poorly designed cover and was written by an unknown individual. Cellan-Jones stated, “I thought: ‘This is strange — who’s writing a biography of me?’”.
The AI Connection
Upon closer inspection, it became apparent that the text of the biography was likely generated by artificial intelligence, specifically ChatGPT. This technology allows individuals to generate pages of text without having to write them.
Amazon’s Response To The Dilemma
Amazon removed the biography and other titles by the pseudonymous author. The report noted that many more such books manage to bypass the filters intended to eliminate low-quality books. In one instance, 15 AI-generated books by someone known as ‘Steven Walryn’ were published in a single day but were removed by Amazon months later.
Many authors are worried about their work being used in large language models to train AI without their consent or any compensation or credit. Among them are Margaret Atwood, Viet Thanh Nguyen, and Philip Pullman.
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Legal Actions Taken by Authors
Last month, The Authors’ Guild and 17 well-known authors like Jonathan Franzen, John Grisham, George R.R. Martin, and Jodi Picoult filed a lawsuit in the Southern district of New York against OpenAI. They alleged that OpenAI “copied plaintiffs’ works wholesale, without permission or consideration” and fed the copyrighted materials into large language models.
An Amazon spokesperson stated that the company invests a lot of time and resources to ensure adherence to its guidelines and removes books that do not comply with them. They added, “While we allow AI-generated content, we don’t allow AI-generated content that violates our content guidelines, including content that creates a disappointing customer experience” .
The Need for Policies and Regulation
Rashik Parmar, group chief executive of BCS, the chartered institute for IT, suggested that legislation should be introduced to ensure that AI-generated material includes a digital watermark so that it can be easily tracked. He believes that if legislation can help British IT professionals demonstrate a higher ethical standard, ‘coded in Britain’ could become a moniker for something special.
The proliferation of AI-generated books has left many authors feeling frustrated and violated. Their hard work and creativity are being undermined by AI-generated content. To make matters worse, often the content makes little sense and offers no real value to readers. This has led to a decrease in visibility for genuine authors and an increase in low-quality content on platforms like Amazon.
The Role of Platforms
Platforms such as Amazon should ensure policies monitor and protect the quality of the content they put up. They have taken steps to remove AI-generated books that violate their guidelines, but more needs to be done. The amount of AI-generated content being published everyday presents a huge issue for these platforms. These platforms should always present as a safe space for creatives by practicing strict guidelines.