With the holiday gift season coming to a close maybe it’s time to decide if Artificial Intelligence is a present we should open.
In a run-up to the holidays, Artificial Intelligence—AI—captured more headlines than Saint Nick as tech firms like OpenAI, Google, Microsoft and X raced to debut their versions of interactive AI bots. The promise? Ask a question, get an instant reply.
Curiosity probably prompted many of us to try one of these offerings. Me? I played with free versions of CHAT-GPT and DALL-E.
How will such tools impact publishing professionals and readers? The answer isn’t clear.
What Is AI?
AI isn’t one entity. AI describes programs structured like the brain’s neural network and given access to vast stores of info to help them see patterns and predict plausible responses.
The publicly-available chat bots used to create text, images, audios and videos are a tiny fraction of the AI world. AI programs have been tailored to write computer code, ferret out early signs of cancer in mammograms, map whale migration, search police bodycam footage for evidence, create new antibiotics, and cut energy consumption.
Such uses explain AI’s promise to improve health care, boost productivity, protect endangered species, and battle climate change. And we haven’t even talked about under-the-cover AI uses that impact us daily—AI-embedded products that narrow internet searches, map car routes, or predict which movies we’ll like.
The Dark Side
I started researching AI in 2022 to give the villain in my third HOA Mystery the expertise to create deepfake videos and use social media to ID and prey on unbalanced individuals. Scary, right? Especially if said villain lives down the street and wants you out of the neighborhood.
Though my mystery, A Killer App, has been published, I still try to keep up on AI developments due to their potential impact on authors, book cover artists, translators, narrators and readers.
Impact on Authors
It would take multiple blogs to explore how AI may affect all publishing professionals. So I’ll limit today’s focus to authors. I’m among the many writers who’ve discovered one or more of their books was used—without permission or compensation—to train a large language AI model.
The Authors Guild is at the forefront of a fight to prompt tech companies to disclose what books have been scraped from the internet to feed AI systems.
Why? An AI program incorporating multiple works from a bestselling author could be asked to plot and write a book in that author’s style. To fool readers, the AI originator might even publish under a name similar to the author being mimicked.
The result can hurt the real author by diverting potential sales. Even worse is the potential that a poorly-written AI mimic will damage the author’s reputation and brand when a dissatisfied buyer decided not to buy more titles by the real author.
A second danger to authors relates to volume. Amazon recently agreed to put a three-book limit on how many books an “author” can upload in one day. That restricts an AI-generator to upload 21 books a week.
It’s already an uphill battle for authors to be discovered among the million-plus eBook titles added every year. A tsunami of AI-generated eBooks threatens to make the situation far worse.
Currently, books generated in whole or in part by AI don’t have to be labeled as such. That means it’s reader beware. Until that changes—hopefully, soon—I encourage readers to look at sample sections of a book before clicking a buy button. In my limited experience, AI-copy tends toward hyperbole. Checking on author bios and reading reviews from trusted sources provide added safeguards.
Will I use AI in my writing? The Authors Guild believes there are ethical uses. For example, an author might use AI for research or to check a draft’s grammar and reader-level. Given AI’s versatility, I might use it as an aid but never to create plots or draft copy. That would defeat my whole reason for writing books. It would steal all the fun.
What’s your opinion?
Linda Lovely’s A Killer App is her eleventh published novel. A journalism major in college, Lovely spent decades handling corporate PR, including penning hundreds of feature articles for business, trade and travel magazines, writing speeches for executives, and preparing newsletters.
Today, her focus is fiction. Her mysteries, historical suspense and contemporary thrillers share one common element—smart, independent heroines. A member of International Thriller Writers and Sisters in Crime, she serves as secretary for Mystery Writers of America’s Southeast regional chapter. For many years, Lovely helped organize the Writers’ Police Academy.
Her novels have earned finalist recognition in prestigious contests such as Romance Writers of America’s Golden Heart for romantic suspense and Killer Nashville’s Silver Falchion Award for best cozy mystery.
Lovely is frequently a guest speaker on a variety of craft and subject matter topics, ranging from how and why to do research if you’re writing fiction to the challenges Artificial Intelligence poses for publishing professionals.
Linda’s website: https://www.lindalovely.com
Amazon link for A Killer App: https://www.amazon.com/Killer-App-HOA-Mystery-ebook/dp/B0CCSKKGGF/f
Chirp link for A Killer App audiobook: https://www.chirpbooks.com/audiobooks/a-killer-app-by-linda-lovely