Thousands of signatories are protesting the exploitation of their works by AI companies without consent or compensation.
Thousands of prominent authors have united their voices to take on AI companies in the latest escalating conflict over the technology’s use of copyrighted materials.
The letter, sent to the heads of OpenAI, Meta, Microsoft, Alphabet, IBM, and Stability AI, is in protest of the non-consensual use of their works in AI systems without recognition or payment.
It has been backed by the Authors Guild, the United States’ largest professional writers’ group, and written by distinguished names such as Margaret Atwood, Jonathan Franzen, James Patterson, Suzanne Collins, and Viet Thanh Nguyen.
“These technologies mimic and regurgitate our language, stories, style, and ideas. Millions of copyrighted books, articles, essays, and poetry provide the ‘food’ for AI systems, endless meals for which there has been no bill,” the letter read.
As the letter continues, it pointedly addresses the enormous expenditures these companies make on AI, arguing that the companies are “spending billions of dollars to develop AI technology” and that is “only fair that you compensate us for using our writings, without which AI would be banal and extremely limited.”
The authors additionally underscore the potentially harmful impact of AI on their livelihoods.
“The introduction of AI threatens to tip the scale to make it even more difficult, if not impossible, for writers – especially young writers and voices from underrepresented communities – to earn a living from their profession.”
AI systems, such as the generative model ChatGPT, use vast quantities of data culled from the internet, allowing them to create content that emulates human language.
This outcry from the Authors Guild marks a further pushback from the arts community against AI development companies. The tension extends to Hollywood, where thousands of actors and writers are striking due to issues involving AI’s role in the film industry.
This news follows last month’s legal action taken by US authors against OpenAI, alleging misuse of their work in training the AI model ChatGPT.
Authors Paul Tremblay and Mona Awad, both Massachusetts residents, are suing for unspecified damages, accusing ChatGPT of copyright infringement for allegedly extracting information from approximately 300,000 books without permission.