Friday, March 1, 2024

Unpopular Opinions #1: Introduction and Clara Matrix's thoughts on the use of AI by authors and in publishing

Unpopular opinions

I've been trying to get back on track with the website and it seems like I'm going one step forward, two steps back with my efforts as my health and body continues to hate me. Ugh. Not fun. I'm currently recovering from a rather nasty bout of the flu with some added respiratory issues. Yucko! That said, as of last night, I'm starting to feel a bit more energetic, so yay!

So...a little introduction to a new series that I might continue to post intermittently for an idea I've been playing around with.

As you can see from the title of this post, I'm going to talk about unpopular opinions. Over the years, for those of you who have followed me a long time, I've talked about all sorts of bookish things from reviews to opinions to things happening in the publishing industry and trends. Most recently about the Spotify/Findaway Voices new terms of use (which I still need to do an update on). I've always tried to stay very neutral and present facts rather than opinions, and when I've presented opinions, I've made it a point to gather multiple points of view, present all sides, and again remain neutral. Take the emotion out of it, so that I am not inciting anger or conflict or just being aggravating.

That said, more and more, and maybe it's menopause, I have strong opinions. And other people have strong opinions. I want the bloggity to continue to be a place where opinions are heard and shared in a respectful way, but there are some, well, many unpopular opinions out there, and some of them make sense. So I'm inviting fellow bookish and publishing colleagues and friends to the bloggity to share their opinions and what they think on certain hot topics. If requested, I will keep these people anonymous as what they say can have a backlash and cause harm to them personally or affect their careers. I know with my day job as an author services provider, there are many things that I do not say in public as they could affect my job. Anonymity will protect these people, but you still get to hear some things which I think need to be shared and heard.

I will try to be timely when it comes to these topics, or I might revisit some enduring topics and hash out what's going on in the bookish world today. Social media is pushing a lot of trends and opinions around, and that's not always a good thing. TikTok is this shiny new place for people to have viral opinions and they are not always based in fact or logic. A lot of it is based on emotion and a desire to go viral and gain notoriety that way. Whatever it is, there are going to be some hot takes and unpopular opinions coming your way.

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After that long introduction, let me kick today's first unpopular opinion off with Clara Matrix's take on the use of AI and the current kerfuffle going on in the book world where both authors and readers are taking sides and there's a lot of noise going on.

Note: I do not change or modify any of the words as they are provided to me. What you get, is what they said.

AI hands on keyboard

Quotes: Okay, so I'm sure this commentary is once again not going to be very popular, can't be like "AI is fine as long as you only use it for these specific things, but you totally cannot use it for these things because that crosses a line for me" and expect people to follow that. That's arbitrarily setting rules YOU decide for someone else and how they conduct their business. There is no law or rule saying anyone has to disclose anything to anyone, except when a distributor like Amazon asks us to disclose to them....and then if Amazon chooses to share that information (so far they have not, and I don't anticipate them doing so), they can, but no one is under any kind of personal or moral obligation to disclose to anyone else whether they are using AI, and in what capacity.

That is some entitled BS. If an author chooses to disclose, they certainly can, but no one OWES you anything. At the end of the day, did you enjoy reading the book? Yes? Great. No? Move on. What tools an author used during their creative process are literally NO ONE'S BUSINESS unless those tools are illegal. Which AI is not.

I'm sorry, but there is no "rule" or "law" or "ethical conundrum" forcing authors to disclose every tool they use. Do they have to disclose using ProWritingAid? Because that program and every other editing program including MS Word's grammar and spellchecker are using AI (and in this editor's opinion, continue to be far, far inferior to human editing).

Do they have to disclose using Photoshop to make marketing images? Because Adobe is implementing AI.

AI is actually being implemented heavily across the tech and corporate worlds, and no one has to disclose anything. So, yes you can be of the opinion that people SHOULD disclose, but the reality is, no one is under any obligation to do so. And honestly, it does not make them a bad person if they don't want to, especially in  this climate of witch hunts in the author community over the use of AI. I've seen the question: if someone is so pro-AI, why would they not be happy to disclose?

I'm going to say something really inflammatory, because I am so tired of seeing this. Unfriend me if you want. But people don't feel safe disclosing to you, because there are a WHOLE bunch of people in this community (and I am NOT saying every anti-AI person fits this, but there are enough who do so it's a problem) who feel righteously justified in their actions and they WILL take up pitchforks and try to rally readers and authors and everyone in between against anyone who uses AI. I've watched them try to shut down someone's successful Kickstarter, try to smear books with 1 star reviews, hold authors up and mock them as "not real authors" like fucking third graders, and I'm done with all of it. I cannot STAND bullies, and that's what these people have turned into.

Some AI tools allow commercial use, and some don't. And NEWSFLASH. Some AI has been trained with scraping the entire interwebs, and some HAS NOT, and has been trained by consented material (this started happening after all of the bruhaha about this when AI first released.) So while people are out here screaming how awful and unethical all AI is....uh, not all AI follows the same methodologies. At least, it certainly isn't these days.

And ultimately, I'm getting really tired of seeing so many people who seem to believe they have the right to tell anyone else how to manage their own business. At the end of the day, every indie author is a small business, and they get to make their own decisions about that business. You get to decide the tools you want to use. And so does everyone else, and whether or not they want to disclose those tools is entirely up to them. YOU DO NOT GET A VOTE, no matter how much you think you do. I guess you can sit on your high horse and judge everyone around you, but that's just your opinion. It's not a rule. It's not a law. No one is breaking anything other than your feelings by how they use or don't use AI, or disclose thereof.

And I just LOOOOOVE the posts that are like "look what this scammer did with AI" like the Wonka event people keep sharing. The tone is ALWAYS "This is how terrible AI is!"

Uh, no...that's how terrible PEOPLE are, and if you think no one was getting scammed for events like this before, look up the Fyre Festival and get back to me. That was WAY before AI. All anyone needs are some pretty photos, a website, and a good enough sounding story to bamboozle people. Does AI make some of that easier? Maybe. But all that does for me is highlight how fucking craptastic PEOPLE can be. Much like the advent of the INTERNET gave rise to literally THOUSANDS of new scams to try and separate people from their money.

I guess we should have all stopped using the internet then, right?

I'm so tired of this widespread belief that if someone disagrees with someone else, that makes them BAD and WRONG. What happened to real discourse? What happened to "we can disagree about something and still be friends?" A whole lot of you disagree with this post, but I'm not unfriending you. If you choose to unfriend me, well....I'm sorry that you've come to this place where you are not open to anyone holding a different opinion about things than you. It must make family gatherings very uncomfortable.

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And then Clara has some final words in a follow up:

Quotes: Just as a...blanket statement, I guess. I'm not really interested in arguing with people about AI. Emotions are high. I don't really care if you disagree with me. That's your opinion, and you're as entitled to it as I am to mine. Discourse is fine, but...I don't care to change your mind, and if the goal is for you to change mine...I've done a LOT of research, and I'm not going to argue small points just so you can feel you scored a win on me, or I can...score a win on you, I guess? I don't care about that. I'm interested in sharing actual information, not debating emotion or what various people consider ethical or not ethical.

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I thought that Clara's views were well thought out and reasoned. She has a point. And I loved that she was not confrontational. It's certainly something to think about before jumping to conclusions or going on a witch hunt (as she puts it).

Now that you've heard from Clara, what do you think? Let's keep it civil, but I'd love to know your thoughts in the comments below.

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  1. Wow, that was well thought out and coherent. I have read a couple of freebies from new to me authors recently and I wondered if they were ai generated or translated from another language, and not proofed well.

    1. I think that if the writing is well edited after it's been generated, it will be pretty much undetectable. Agree, this was very well written.

  2. Clara is spot on point! Very Bloggity of her! Excellent essay.

    1. Thank you. I'm so glad Clara decided to share her thoughts with us. Well said, indeed.

  3. Wow! Great article, thank you. So refreshing to hear the voice of reason.