London: Top Publishing Organizations on AI Protection

From Publishing Perspectives:

A key development in world publishing’s response to artificial intelligence technologies, today (October 31), four of the United Kingdom’s most prominent publishing-industry organizations have issued an adamant message to the government led by the prime minister, Rishi Sunak.

The Publishers Association; the Society of Authors, a trade union; Association of Authors’ Agents, and the Authors’ Licensing and Collecting Society (referred to by its initialization, ALCS) are making an appeal that points to the importance of this week’s AI Safety Summit led by Sunak’s offices—and outlines the critical nature of its mission.

In these four leading entities’ statement you can hear the sort of “tale of two technologies” debate that much of world publishing has had with itself over AI, the point being—as discussed onstage by Núria Cabutí, the CEO of Penguin Random House Grupo Editorial, here at the ongoing Sharjah Publishers Conference—that while much may be supported and accompanied by AI in the “back end” setting of publishing’s data and management positions, the creative input must be held strictly as a force and field of human creativity only, protected from incursions by the operations of AI programs.

Here is the complete text of the statement communicated today to No. 10 Downing Street by these four British associations:

As a society, we should support human authorship unequivocally. It is of the utmost importance that the government puts into place tangible solutions as soon as possible to protect the human creativity and knowledge that underpins safe and reliable AI. Human creativity is the bedrock of the publishing and wider creative industries. That creativity will be worth around £116 billion [US$140.8 billion] this year in the UK alone.

“We applaud the prime minister for convening the first ever AI Safety Summit this week and for positioning the UK as a facilitator for strong global action on artificial intelligence and it is right for the UK to seek to be a leading light in development of AI, embracing the many benefits it can bring when used responsibly and ethically as a tool. The publishing industry was an early adopter of AI and we fully recognize the potential benefits and opportunities it can bring to our industry with AI tools that help us enhance human creativity and academic endeavor by reaching our audiences, marketing our books and journals more effectively, and improving processes and systems. However, it must be used ethically and legally, and its use must be regulated.

“We need urgent confirmation from government to ensure that AI systems cannot continue to use copyright-protected works with impunity. Creative work—and industries like publishing that are built on it—can only thrive under the right conditions: a strong copyright regime, compensation, credit for authors and other creators, and rightsholders’ control. But those conditions are being undermined—and creative works devalued—by today’s unfettered, opaque development of AI systems, which have been designed using copyright-protected works used without permission or payment.

“We need acknowledgement of and recompense for the copyright infringement that has already happened—including the pirated Books3 database used to develop many high profile systems—and assurances that those practices will end. We need practices based on consent and fair payment to ensure that authors and rights holders are asked for permission and rewarded for the use of their works. We need to ensure that creators are credited when their works are used to generate derivative outputs.

“And we need transparency and attribution. An end to the opaque development of AI is long overdue. We can only ensure that with strong government support.

“This is an issue on which the entire publishing industry is united. It is vital that authors and rightsholders are protected by government as AI continues to be developed. We urge the prime minister to make a statement of commitment to protecting the value of human creativity, intellectual property, and publishing and the creative industries, while these new technologies evolve.”

Link to the rest at Publishing Perspectives

PG remembers that when spell-checking was added to computer word-processing programs, some decried this technology as a dangerous substitution for memorizing how words are spelled (“If the letter C you spy, place the E before the I.”).

PG doesn’t remember the specific predicted consequences, but they were something like the brains of the younger generation would be turned to mush.

Of course, just like all preceding generations, some of the brains were turned to mush, but others were stimulated by the ability to write much more clearly and quickly than was possible for them BC – Before Computers and BS – Before Spellcheckers.

Not long ago, grammar checkers started showing up in all kinds of new environments. PG doesn’t remember the same hue and cry as he recalls about spellcheckers, but perhaps he was running around with the wrong crowd.

AI tools will be the next assistive technology that allows humans to leverage their intelligence to communicate more clearly, accurately, effectively, and quickly.

3 thoughts on “London: Top Publishing Organizations on AI Protection”

  1. English spelling often has an American and a British version – both recognized in their environments – and a few words have more variation. That’s easy to turn into algorithms.

    But most grammar checkers destroy any chance of the elusive quality of literature we call voice – by rewriting work into a ‘standard Business English’ version of itself. Because we writers love the playground: word order, split infinitives, resonance, assonance, and all the literary tropes, the perfect noun, verbing nouns and nouning verbs. Deliberately and for effect and for the mysterious ‘it sounds right.’

    I doubt we’d still have fiction if it sounded like shop manuals for tractors.

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