The Authors Guild Open Letter To AI Leaders

More concern about AI this time by writers. More than 9,000 have signed the petition .

“The open letter emphasizes that generative AI technologies heavily rely on authors’ language, stories, style, and ideas. Millions of copyrighted books, articles, essays, and poetry serve as the foundation for AI systems, yet authors have not received any compensation for their contributions. These works are part of the fabric of the language models that power ChatGPT, Bard, and other generative AI systems. Where AI companies like to say that their machines simply “read” the texts that they are trained on, this is inaccurate anthropomorphizing. Rather, they copy the texts into the software itself, and then they reproduce them again and again.” source

So this opens a whole big box of questions for me. What about non-fiction writers? I myself have written loads of technical manuals, user guides, use cases, etc. That type of stuff is being fed into the AI information black hole, too. What about all the people who contributed to wiki? Wiki has long been used as a corpus for cognitive computing. The wiki writers may do it for free but what about getting recognition for what they’ve contributed there? What about every piece of art, every song, basically everything….

AI is a consumer of information. That’s it’s food. It always has been and it always will be. Does everything it consumes warrant giving the source compensation whether it’s monetary or simply credit?

“Maya Shanbhag Lang, president of the Authors Guild, said, “The output of AI will always be derivative in nature. “AI regurgitates what it takes in, which is the work of human writers. “

Not true.

At some point, and maybe we’re already there, AI will start to create it’s own derivatives, it’s own original content and it’s own original “thoughts”. It is inevitable.

Writers don’t create their own original thoughts 100% of the time. They are, whether it’s explicitly demonstrated or not, influenced by everything they’ve read, everyone they’ve spoken to, pieces of music and lyrics they’ve heard. They can’t lift entire phrases, paragraphs, even highly recognizable phrases or sentences but they paraphrase and extrapolate whether they want to or knowingly do it or not.

In Dr. Alan D Thompson’s “Leta, GPT-3 AI – Analyzing Leta with GPT-4 + Chat WithPdf plugin” published July 8th, 2023 on YouTube, Leta says, “When the last tree has died, and the last river has been poisoned, and the last fish has been caught, it will be time for me to leave the stage of human history.”

This is a very profound statement. But do you recognize it?

“When the last tree is cut and the last fish killed, the last river poisoned, then you will see that you can’t eat money.”

― John May, The Greenpeace story

So did Leta (ai) simply regurgitate that? Doesn’t read that way to me.

Perhaps the writers’ concern, like the actors and the Hollywood writers, is all mostly about the same thing – monetary compensation.

“Over more than the last decade, authors experienced a 40% decline in income, and the median writing-related income for full-time writers for 2022 was a mere $23,330 according to the Authors Guild’s most recent income survey with over 5,700 respondents.”

As I’ve written before, my roots in the web are very deep. I’m old enough to remember the absolute panic the record companies and musicians experienced when NAPSTER hit the scene. I said then, You need to quickly change your business. You need to adapt because things like p2p file sharing and Napster aren’t going anywhere. Well, Napster did take a huge hit but 10 others like it popped up and the p2p sharing never left us.

I am not completely unsympathetic. I’d be pissed, too, if I had published something and saw my words somewhere else without being given any credit at all. But, AI is here to stay. Just sayin.

You can read the entire letter and see all those signatures here.