Top authors demand payment from AI firms for using their work

An open letter, signed by over 9,000 authors, has been addressed to prominent tech companies, expressing reservations about their utilization of copyrighted materials to train AI-driven chatbots.

Dispatched by the Authors Guild to the CEOs of OpenAI, Alphabet, Meta, Stability AI, IBM, and Microsoft, the letter draws notice to what it deems as “the fundamental injustice in incorporating our creations into your AI systems without obtaining our consent, acknowledgment, or remuneration.”

Endorsed by renowned authors including Dan Brown, James Patterson, Jennifer Egan, David Baldacci, and Margaret Atwood, the letter further includes: “These technologies imitate and reproduce our language, narratives, flair, and concepts. AI systems draw from millions of copyrighted books, articles, essays, and poems as their ‘nourishment’… Considering your substantial investments in AI advancement, it is equitable that you provide remuneration for the utilization of our literary works. Without them, AI would lack depth and remain exceedingly restricted.”

Chatbots such as OpenAI’s ChatGPT and Google’s Bard have garnered significant attention in recent months due to their remarkable capability to engage in natural, human-like conversations. Their prowess is so pronounced that many experts speculate that more advanced iterations of this technology could supplant a substantial number of jobs, leading to transformative changes in society.

However, the process of training these chatbots involves gathering vast quantities of data from the internet, which includes content created by authors.

“These literary works are integral to the very foundation of language models powering ChatGPT, Bard, and similar generative AI systems,” remarked the Authors Guild in their statement regarding the open letter. “While AI companies often state that their machines simply ‘read’ the texts they’re trained on, this characterization inaccurately anthropomorphizes the process. In actuality, they assimilate the text directly into the software and then replicate it repeatedly.”

The individuals who have signed the letter are requesting that the companies acquire explicit permission for employing copyrighted material within their generative AI tools. They also advocate for compensation to be provided to writers for both historical and ongoing usage of their works, including their incorporation into AI-generated outputs.

As of now, most of the technology firms have yet to issue a public response. However, OpenAI informed the Wall Street Journal that ChatGPT’s training includes “licensed content, publicly available content, and content created by human AI trainers and users.”

This letter arrives a week following copyright infringement lawsuits filed by American comedian Sarah Silverman and authors Richard Kadrey and Christopher Golden against OpenAI and Meta. The lawsuits allege the unauthorized use of their content for training AI-powered chatbots.

These actions from the Authors Guild and Silverman underscore the mounting challenges that technology companies face in handling copyright claims, which could potentially require a significant amount of time to resolve.

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