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posted by hubie on Sunday April 16 2023, @07:57AM   Printer-friendly

Writers and publishers face an existential threat from AI: time to embrace the true fans model:

Walled Culture has written several times about the major impact that generative AI will have on the copyright landscape. More specifically, these systems, which can create quickly and cheaply written material on any topic and in any style, are likely to threaten the publishing industry in profound ways. Exactly how is spelled out in this great post by Suw Charman-Anderson on her Word Count blog. The key point is that large language models (LLMs) are able to generate huge quantities of material. The fact that much of it is poorly written makes things worse, because it becomes harder to find the good stuff[.]

[...] One obvious approach is to try to use AI against AI. That is, to employ automated vetting systems to weed out the obvious rubbish. That will lead to an expensive arms race between competing AI software, with unsatisfactory results for publishers and creators. If anything, it will only cause LLMs to become better and to produce material even faster in an attempt to fool or simply overwhelm the vetting AIs.

The real solution is to move to an entirely different business model, which is based on the unique connection between human creators and their fans. The true fans approach has been discussed here many times in other contexts, and once more reveals itself as resilient in the face of change brought about by rapidly-advancing digital technologies.

True fans are not interested in the flood of AI-generated material: they want authenticity from the writers they know and whose works they love. True fans don't care if LLMs can churn out pale imitations of their favourite creators for almost zero cost. They are happy to support the future work of traditional creators by paying a decent price for material. They understand that LLMs may be able to produce at an ever-cheaper cost, but that humans can't.

There's a place for publishers (and literary magazines) in this world, helping writers connect with their readers, and turning writing that fans support into publications offered in a variety of formats, both digital and physical. But for that to happen publishers must accept that they serve creators. That's unlike today, where many writers are little more than hired labourers churning out work for the larger publishing houses to exploit.

In today's new world of slick, practically cost-free LLMs, even the pittance of royalties will no longer be on offer to most creators. It's time for the latter to move on to where they are deeply appreciated, fairly paid, and really belong: among their true fans.

This first sounded like a description of Patreon, but what's he talking about is something like a people-run Patreon that has all the bells and whistles of recommendation algorithms, reviews, etc., not just a simple way to give money directly to individuals. My bet is whomever writes the first successful one gets bought out by an Amazon-like entity . . . [Ed.]

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  • (Score: 5, Interesting) by Rich on Sunday April 16 2023, @10:54AM

    by Rich (945) on Sunday April 16 2023, @10:54AM (#1301676) Journal

    Only Patreon Fans
    True fans are not interested in the flood of AI-generated material

    As of today, the guy (it's said to be just one) running pornpen has 12888 patrons at 16.50€ a month.

    cf [] . Respect from me for getting that off the ground.

    On a slightly more serious note, I think the future liies more in being able to get AI to produce the desired results and curate the best of it in addition to some own input and this indeed is an art in itself, and worth of said true-fan-ism if it's done right.

    Also, recently a thought crossed my mind: A lot of AI prompts I saw included the name of the Polish illustrator Greg Rutkowski. I was curious what art style they were trying to infer with his name and went to his web site. I found it to be a huge propaganda piece against AI learning. Now I think that's a futile effort, because if rules are applied "here", those somewhere else (read China) will be in advantage and "here" will not only have no compensation for artists anymore (because everyone uses the China models), but lose the lead in technology and end in an overall negative.

    However, what if the guy was instead building his own model on his full work catalogue, perfectly annotated, and extensively trained, and then SOLD under his name? So you'd not only get the vague idea an obscure model might have, but the full style. Every use of his name would turn into an advertisement and I'd bet he'd be able to sell original works for a magnitude more than he does now.

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