Amazon's AI Author Problem

They need to solve this fast

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Life's simple pleasures often include the joy of reading a good book, with fiction holding a special place in many hearts. Memoirs, too, are embraced for the unique perspectives they offer. However, the dark side emerges as some exploit artificial intelligence to write and sell books on platforms like Amazon, leading to unforeseen consequences.

Tech journalist Kara Swisher experienced this firsthand when preparing to release her latest book last month, "Burn Book." Alongside its pre-orders, she discovered unfamiliar books claiming to tell her life story. She didn’t recognise the authors or the photos of her on the covers…

The books were made with AI.

The alarming trend involves individuals using AI to generate books similar to best-selling releases rapidly. By scraping the internet for information, the AI can generate books at an astonishing pace. However, the drawback is that these AI models may "hallucinate," injecting outright lies into biographies.

For Kara, seeing an ungodly amount of fake biographies about her alongside her real memoir was bad. Her name is in the title of the fake books, but at least she’s not listed as the author.

Imagine you’re a best-selling author, and someone starts publishing AI books under your name, too. If you happen to be best-selling author Jane Friedman reading this, you don’t have to imagine it; it happened to her. 

Jane Friedman is a best-selling author who writes about making it in the world of publishing. So imagine her shock when she saw some new books pop up online using her name. She has fought for sites like Amazon and Goodreads to delete these bogus books, but it's a real struggle. AI can write a book, design the cover, and upload it for sale in less than a few hours. 

Amazon has claimed to take this problem very seriously. But, it currently has no policy against AI-generated books. It does have rules about books with misleading descriptions. They also cover books that infringe on intellectual property. And books that are "typically disappointing". In other words, the problem of these AI books will become a lot worse before it gets better. As of today, those AI-generated books no longer litter the page when you search for Kara’s book. But how long will that last? 

This is the important thing to keep in mind about AI: it is simply a tool. We can use this tool to sell pastries or detect cancer. We can also use it to create NSFW images of celebrities (please don’t do that). So, people have seen AI as a cheap and easy way to produce a book as a cash grab. And now actual writers are having to deal with that.

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