AI Training Permission

From Hugh Howey:

A comment on my previous post about not using AI in my stories — and using the copyright page to make this explicit — is worth responding to in its own post, because I think it raises important issues.

The comment comes from Pat, who says:

I would think a better use of the Copyright would be to declare that no AI could be TRAINED on the copyrighted work. AI has no originality, it can only take in large quantities of material and try to splice it back together in a (usually) coherent manner. Declaring your works off-limits for AI to use as training material means AI will never be able to create “in the style of Hugh Howey” and limits the range of things AI can learn. If enough creative people do this, AI can’t learn from anything and won’t be able to create anything, at least outside places like Adobe where they own a zillion images copyrighted to themselves so they can do whatever they want with them.

Pat Augustine

I respect this opinion, and it is all very well-said, but I disagree with most of it and I’d love to explain why.

The idea that AI can be halted in its tracks if we prevent it from learning on copyrighted works misses the fact that there are more than enough works in the public domain to train LLMs.

Even if this weren’t so, I want AI trained on my work. I have a very positive view of AI. These models are, in a way, a distillation of our combined intelligence, our thoughts, our wisdom, our unique writing voices. I love being a part of that. I love that we are all contributing to it and building something that will certainly outlast us individually and may very well outlast us collectively.

When humans are extinct, our sun an old tired red giant, and what’s left of us is cruising among the stars, I like to think that some tiny sliver of me is out there intermingling with some tiny sliver of you. Even these words I’m typing right now. We are creating something very special, almost like a child of our every mind, and I think that’s amazing.

Also, guess what? You don’t have a choice. Legally. 70 years after you die, your works will become part of the public domain. The idea that AI is never allowed to be trained on your data is just wrong. It’s a matter of when. If you want to delay it as long as possible, awesome! Go for it. Just know that it’s a temporary thing.

The last thing I disagree with here (and the most important) is the claim that LLMs can’t be creative. I’ve played with LLMs enough to say this with complete confidence: what they do is similar enough to what we do that it’s a question of difference and not kind. If they aren’t creative, then we aren’t creative, and the word has no meaning. Today’s most advanced LLMs are definitely creative, and astoundingly so. They can generate new ideas never seen before. They aren’t just rearranging what’s already out there, they are “thinking” in much the same way that we “think.”

Link to the rest at Hugh Howey

PG says that Hugh is thinking quite clearly and rationally about AI.

The fact is that AI writing (and art, legal writing and a zillion other AI applications) is here to stay and will become more sophisticated over time. That said, PG predicts that quality authors and other creative professionals will continue to create unique and original work that will find an audience willing to pay to experience the benefits of a creative human mind.

Here’s a link to Hugh Howey’s books.