AI Training Permission

A comment on my previous post about not using AI in my stories — and using the copyright page to make this explicit — is worth responding to in its own post, because I think it raises important issues.

The comment comes from Pat, who says:

I would think a better use of the Copyright would be to declare that no AI could be TRAINED on the copyrighted work. AI has no originality, it can only take in large quantities of material and try to splice it back together in a (usually) coherent manner. Declaring your works off-limits for AI to use as training material means AI will never be able to create “in the style of Hugh Howey” and limits the range of things AI can learn. If enough creative people do this, AI can’t learn from anything and won’t be able to create anything, at least outside places like Adobe where they own a zillion images copyrighted to themselves so they can do whatever they want with them.

Pat Augustine

I respect this opinion, and it is all very well-said, but I disagree with most of it and I’d love to explain why.

The idea that AI can be halted in its tracks if we prevent it from learning on copyrighted works misses the fact that there are more than enough works in the public domain to train LLMs.

Even if this weren’t so, I want AI trained on my work. I have a very positive view of AI. These models are, in a way, a distillation of our combined intelligence, our thoughts, our wisdom, our unique writing voices. I love being a part of that. I love that we are all contributing to it and building something that will certainly outlast us individually and may very well outlast us collectively.

When humans are extinct, our sun an old tired red giant, and what’s left of us is cruising among the stars, I like to think that some tiny sliver of me is out there intermingling with some tiny sliver of you. Even these words I’m typing right now. We are creating something very special, almost like a child of our every mind, and I think that’s amazing.

Also, guess what? You don’t have a choice. Legally. 70 years after you die, your works will become part of the public domain. The idea that AI is never allowed to be trained on your data is just wrong. It’s a matter of when. If you want to delay it as long as possible, awesome! Go for it. Just know that it’s a temporary thing.

The last thing I disagree with here (and the most important) is the claim that LLMs can’t be creative. I’ve played with LLMs enough to say this with complete confidence: what they do is similar enough to what we do that it’s a question of difference and not kind. If they aren’t creative, then we aren’t creative, and the word has no meaning. Today’s most advanced LLMs are definitely creative, and astoundingly so. They can generate new ideas never seen before. They aren’t just rearranging what’s already out there, they are “thinking” in much the same way that we “think.”

I have an interesting set of prompts from the last few weeks that I’ll share in a future blog post to demonstrate this, but it’s easy enough to see if you spend time with the latest version of ChatGPT. Yes, you can get it to say some dumb things. Yes, it is often wrong. It’s like us in those ways as well.

8 responses to “AI Training Permission”

  1. Continuing to learn is a gift- one that is earned by seeking enrichment from ideas that are changing constantly from ideas that one may have not known before seeking knowledge, I read because I enjoy growth and expanding on my own wealth of ideas, experiences and exposure to different ideas. If AI can help in the pursuit of this enrichment I am all for it –

  2. Well said.

  3. AI is another attempt at mankind’s desire to
    be God. It is the next tower of Babbel. We have been warned many times. With that being said, I feel we are still at a point where we
    Can guide this thing to be a tool, just a tool, a thing not to be worshipped.

  4. My deepest concern surrounding AI is not so much that this technology might be dangerous, but the accelerating trend towards technology replacing human workers in a wide variety of creative tasks. With a constantly growing population, we need to create MORE jobs not less. I could imagine this technology creating a wider divide between the haves and have not’s as writers, editors, filmmakers, poets, artists, lawyers, judges, taxi cab drivers and who knows what other professions are impacted by this new technology.

    1. Under capitalism technology is used for cost cutting.

      At first it makes the product cheaper, so the public at large is happy. A lot of people lose their jobs.

      Eventually prices go back up, but the jobs are already gone as the new norm is long established.

  5. I’ve been reading science-fiction and fantasy ever since I could, and I’ve fallen in love with a couple of fictional AI entities that way. I’ve also looked forward to the day when AI can supply me with chocolate from the ether via a handy dispenser. The idea of there being a record of humanity saved by AI long after we are dust is also rather cool, but even though what AI models produce is based on what it learns from works created by humans, it is not work created by humans, so I don’t think I would want to be remembered that way. I originally wanted to hate the current AI models because I am an firstly an artist as well as a writer but I now feel a little sorry for them. I’ve played with Stable Diffusion and while some of what it produces is quite cool (tentacle fingers notwithstanding), in my opinion it lacks that indefinable sense of purpose that human artists far less “skilled” than AI can produce. I’m quite fond of Chat GPT – it produced quite a moving ode to birds for me, and it’s wonderfully polite, then I got to thinking that I should try ask it about something that I literally know everything about. When I asked it to summarise a book that I have written, it got the point of the story completely wrong, albeit in a very nicely worded way. My opinion is that I’d rather have human creativity saved for posterity exactly as it is written/painted and so on, rather than as a distillation interpreted by AI. Including yours – LOVED Silo and Sand.

  6. Allow me to put a more conspiracy theory, alarming or wake up spin on where I think this is all going. Hear me out. When you (or one self) die, there should be no question that you have been taken as dust by the universe, by only the one ultimate creator: God. Don’t for a minute read my 1st sentence and get trigger either because, “oh boy, here comes another bible thumper”, or where I’m actually going here. Please read on and keep an open mind. What I’m suggesting is, that it is simply too late to control what data and the models training on that data, actively, right now — are actually doing (producing). Every minute and day that goes by, further lose grasp and take steps backwards from controlling it. If you have anything (across any of the modalities out there, video, text, audio, etc), today’s active models, are already being training – right now! As soon as your content touches disk, film or any form of recording media, it is over. This includes private, controlled, restricted or even highly secure content. Firewalls, security and offline notions are a thing of the past – it is all being collected. Big Tech is allowing this to happen in the background, making a killing on it – all the while convincing you that you are doing right by helping it get better. Sure, it may, and yes, there are benefits but the problem is – not all think that way. Your legacy will remain within those data sets, much beyond LLMs! Embrace it! There is nothing you can do ; nobody at the top really cares about copyrights, IP, and ownership from any creator. No matter how convincing a counter argument may be – it in itself won’t stop the machine. We have done this all to ourselves and it is now in lost hands to rectify. The only solution is to unplug but we all know that won’t happen either. We would have to go back 40+ years. Note, every bit of software we use will have Ai built into it over the next 2-3 years.

  7. What’ll be interesting is when AI starts to be trained on works produced by AI. Curious to see where this incestuous path will lead

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