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Fanfiction Writers Scramble To Set Profiles to Private as Evidence Grows That AI Writing Is Using Their Stories

Daemon says "What the fuck is this?" on House of the Dragon.

Remember all those movies where the AI comes to ruin us? Remember when Matt Smith was actually the horrifying Skynet in the Terminator franchise? Well, that might just be for me but the point is that AI technology is often seen as the villain in our pop culture and now it seems as if AI technology is well … doing what the movies have always told us it would: taking over.

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AI writing software is using fanfiction to its benefit. You may have seen the recent uptick in AI stealing from artists with Lensa when a lot of users (myself included) got AI photographs of themselves done and were left with the realization that the app was taking from artists online to recreate images, meaning that your money was being used to steal from others while making the AI smarter in its abilities. Quickly after doing it, many of us realized what was going on and deleted the images/regretted it because we didn’t know what was going on at the start.

Now it seems that AI software is using fanfiction to essentially teach an AI program to write, which not only hurts the writers of the fanfiction being used without their knowledge but also is scary for the future, as a writer, to see what the AI technology can do. A Reddit page has detailed what is going on with OpenAI and … honestly, it’s frightening to know that we’re this close to the AI world that has always been labeled as a horror story in movies and television.

The reddit post details several tells that the AI writing software Sudowrite, which is built on OpenAI’s natural language “GPT-3” technology, has been using fanfiction as part of its data to “learn from. The post says,

“These language models have performed almost as well as humans in comprehension of text. It’s really profound,” says writer/entrepreneur James Yu, co-founder of Sudowrite, a writing app built on the bones of GPT-3. “The entire goal – given a passage of text – is to output the next paragraph or so, such that we would perceive the entire passage as a cohesive whole written by one author. It’s just pattern recognition, but I think it does go beyond the concept of autocomplete.”

AI is taking from artists

You might think that this is nothing and that it’s just AI software, but think of all the technology that has come out that erases humans from the work. First, it was the deepfake technology that would replace an actor with someone else that has often been used in YouTube videos to talk about why some other actor would be good in a role. Then it was Lensa, and now it is OpenAI and stealing from fanfiction writers.

What all this does is show that it is taking from humans and turning it into their “original” thought, but it isn’t original at all. Sudowrite may not be reproducing these writers’ actual work in the sense of plagiarism and reproducing the same words in the same order, but to come up with its “original” writing, it’s using authors’ work for profit without them getting any benefit. If those behind AI writing programs want to teach AI to write based on material written by human beings, they should be paying for the rights to use published writing to do so.

We don’t get to read the work or experience the joy of celebrating fandom with our fellow fans because they have to lock their accounts and hide their work away from those who love to experience it. This isn’t beneficial to anyone. This hurts artists, fans, and the general idea of creativity, and it’s terrifying.

(image: HBO)

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Rachel Leishman
Rachel Leishman (She/Her) is an Assistant Editor at the Mary Sue. She's been a writer professionally since 2016 but was always obsessed with movies and television and writing about them growing up. A lover of Spider-Man and Wanda Maximoff's biggest defender, she has interests in all things nerdy and a cat named Benjamin Wyatt the cat. If you want to talk classic rock music or all things Harrison Ford, she's your girl but her interests span far and wide. Yes, she knows she looks like Florence Pugh.

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