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Darren Campo

Adjunct Professor of Media & Technology New York University

AI Failed At Writing Sci-Fi. Here’s Why Publishers May Just Want Them to Succeed


Recently, science fiction magazine Clarkesworld was forced to close submissions for authors after being flooded with stories written by AI tools. While it was clear that the AI failed at writing sci-fi, this failure pointed towards larger problem: AI-assisted plagiarism.

Neil Clarke, the editor of Clarkesworld, said the amount of spam the magazine typically receives has increased drastically since ChatGPT was launched. The culprits, he believes, are not authors themselves — but rather, people who want to take advantage of the sci-fi community’s higher rates for authors and always-open submission windows.

Clarkesworld is not the only sci-fi magazine facing this problem. Asimov’s Science Fiction has also been receiving similar AI submissions. Some of them were so obviously written by AI that they actually had the same title.

While the AI tools failed at writing sci-fi, they are likely to improve with time. However, some experts believe the publishing world need not be worried, as improved technology and new cutting edge tools for creating or publishing written content has generally had a positive impact on readers and writers. Darren Campo, Senior Vice President of Programming and Content Strategy for The Food Network and Cooking Channel, Adjunct Assistant Professor at the NYU Stern School of Business, and author of the sci-fi series Alex Detail, tells us why anything (even disruptive technology) is great for the publishing world if it increases readership.

Darren’s Thoughts:

Science fiction magazines that publish short stories are now being inundated by stories written by AIs like Chat GPT. This is according to a recent article from The New York Times where they spoke to the editors at sci-fi magazines like Clarkesworld and Asimov’s Science Fiction. Now, according to the editors so far, these stories aren’t very good. They’re pretty easy to spot. They read more like a list of facts in a simple story format rather than something that a writer developed in his/her craft has written. However, it really won’t be long before AI is able to generate stories that are interesting to some people to read. So, how does this impact the publishing world?

Well, first we should ask, ‘How does this impact the reader? How has technology impacted readership in the past?’ A couple of big examples are the technologies that enabled for self-publishing. With self-publishing, we had books about subjects and characters that were not widely written about before, and that was great for readers. Another technology that allowed for the distribution of fan fiction over the internet led to things like 50 Shades of Grey, which was the highest selling book of its decade and inspired thousands of book clubs, movies about those book clubs, and other movies. So, that was also generally a net positive for both the reader and the publishing world.

So as this disruptive technology unfolds, it will eventually be a positive for the reader and anything that’s good and increases readership is great for the publishing world as well. As a science fiction writer myself, I am really looking forward to seeing how this all unfolds over the next few years.”

Article written by Aarushi Maheshwari.

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