Amazon has announced a policy shift that mandates authors to disclose the use of AI in generating material for e-books sold on its platform.
This move comes after persistent pressure from the Authors Guild and similar organizations, who have expressed concerns about the growing presence of AI-generated content.
AI-generated content absorbs revenue from genuine authors while lowering the overall quality of published content.
Amazon’s updated terms in the direct publishing guidelines say: “We require you to inform us of AI-generated content (text, images, or translations) when you publish a new book or make edits to and republish an existing book through KDP. AI-generated images include cover and interior images and artwork.”
The Authors Guild has lauded the new policy as a “welcome first step.”
A statement on their website reads, “We are grateful to the Amazon team for taking our concerns into account and enacting this important step toward ensuring transparency and accountability for AI-generated content,” and also notes that it will “continue working to promote similar transparency from other major platforms and publishers.”
By requiring authors to disclose AI-generated content, Amazon aims to empower consumers with the knowledge to make more informed decisions.
However, this voluntary system is not particularly robust, and there’s virtually no way for Amazon to objectively detect AI-generated content, as AI detectors are mainly defunct in the era of GPT-4 and other complex large language models (LLMs).
Research has shown that AI detectors are both poor at detecting AI-generated work and liable to falsely flag genuine content.
Impact on quality and originality
One of the primary concerns leading to Amazon’s new policy has been the question of quality and originality in AI-generated content.
As AI models become more advanced, there is a growing fear that these automated systems could flood the market with derivative works, potentially diluting the distinctiveness of human creativity.
Plus, self-help and non-fiction AI-generated books could circulate incorrect or dangerous information. For instance, Amazon recently pulled a mushroom foraging book containing dangerous or even fatal advice.
Amazon’s decision also touches on the increasingly contentious issue of intellectual property rights in the era of AI.
AI algorithms are often trained on existing works that could be copyrighted.
The Authors Guild had previously organized an open letter, endorsed by high-profile authors like James Patterson and Margaret Atwood, urging tech companies not to use copyrighted material without permission.
Amazon’s policy has been received positively, but it’s worth noting that Amazon has yet to publicly identify books that contain AI-generated material.
The ultimate impact of Amazon’s decision will depend on how far they go to identify and remove AI-generated books, particularly in cases where the content is exceptionally low quality, unoriginal, or contains factually incorrect, risky, or dangerous advice.