For the past seventeen years, Neil Clarke, editor and publisher of the well-known science fiction and fantasy magazine Clarkesworld, has had writers speculating about how technological progress will affect our lives. At present, Clarke is struggling with a situation that could easily be the basis of a sci-fi tale: He is being overflowed with short stories composed with the assistance of artificial intelligence programs.
Clarke described the turn of events to TechCrunch as “”ironic,” and explained that despite the magazine’s usually positive record of open story submissions, the amount of submissions became so overwhelming that they had to make a sudden call to shut down the submission portal. This was in stark contrast to other short-fiction publishers who have waiting periods before accepting new stories. Clarke added that the portal had only been shut before due to website or software upgrades.
Clarke said to TechCrunch that it was a breeze to use these implements to create a huge amount of works much faster than a human author would generate a couple of them. He then compared it to a crowded room full of screaming toddlers, making it difficult to hear what people are actually saying.
Clarke isn’t exaggerating his story. In a blog post, he displayed a graph that covers the timeline from June 2019 to February 2023. It shows how many monthly posts were flagged as spam by his team. Before 2021, the sum of spam submissions was never higher than 25 in a month, and many months had zero spam reports. But right before he deactivated submissions on Monday, his team reported more than 500 submissions that were dubious in February. In 2022, according to Clarke’s blog, Clarke’s World received approximately 11,500 contributions.
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Raising issues about plagiarism, ChatGPT and GPT-3, AI-generated visual artwork evoke inquiry. Generally speaking, these models are taught using text accessible from the web, which includes copyright-protected material from sources such as Clarkesworld.
If a narrative created by an AI was good enough to be printed in Clarkesworld, the magazine would have to confront a few moral issues. However, Clarke affirms that the stories produced by these programs are not satisfactory. These text-generating algorithms are not designed to excite or astound people; they evaluate trends in immense databases to give an output that matches what is asked for.
DALL-E, Midjourney, and other image-producing AI programs can produce some interesting visuals – although not necessarily original ones – but when you quickly scroll by an AI-generated avatar on Instagram, there’s not much depth to the art. If reading a 5,000 word piece of fiction, one should expect to spend roughly 15 minutes or more on a narrative that is purposefully composed to be as mundane and dull as possible.
Clarke’s choice to shut down entries has busted the boundaries, going beyond the protected science fiction realm to initiate yet another argument on the Internet as to whether artificial intelligence is capable of producing exceptional art.
Clarke commented that their tweet has unexpectedly become popular. She is getting messages from people with different stances on the issue of artificial intelligence, some of which are positive while others are negative. The speaker sees this as an opportunity to determine who is serious about the matter.
For Clarke and his personnel, plus the applicants who submit their manuscripts, the overwhelming number of entries restricts the amount of time they can spend helping upcoming sci-fi authors who truly aspire to better their writing skills. As a result, Clarke is stuck going through dull and uninspired writing.
Clarke claimed to TechCrunch that it’s the same narrative as if a bunch of monkeys worked together and eventually created something as magnificent as a work by Shakespeare. The only thing is, for now, we still have to figure out which of those monkeys is the genuine one.
Several pieces of software claim to be capable of spotting plagiarizing and text created by applications such as ChatGPT. However, according to Clarke, these pricey programs are not particularly accurate. Kyle Wiggers from TechCrunch conducted tests on seven AI content finders and discovered none of them to be effective. OpenAI reckons that even its own tool for recognizing synthetic text fails to detect 74% of AI-generated content.
Solving this dilemma is way too complicated for a heavily funded business that has obtained a multi-billion-dollar appraisal, not to mention a solitary science fiction book publishing company.
Clarke has an inclination toward releasing books by global authors, but he detected that authors who were not native English speakers were occasionally flagged as false by these detectors.
Clarke noted that it is unlikely that any automatic scanning computer program can be used to examine stories, since some things which may appear to be questionable can be attributed to an individual’s personal way of learning English.
This enormous quantity of entries is not being generated by robots— Clarke believes they come from actual people who are looking to make money quickly with minimal effort. Even Amazon has witnessed a sharp rise in e-books that were self-published and created with Artificial Intelligence.
He stated that the submissions they were receiving were primarily not from the science fiction community, but from individuals who had been looking at blogs, watching YouTube clips, and scrolling through TikToks about side hustles and merely created something for a fast payout.
Clarke commented that other science fiction magazines are facing similar challenges, particularly those that take submissions no matter what, or have higher payouts. He could not explain why the science fiction genre is more susceptible to computer-generated work – aside from the irony of the situation – it is likely because they offer better remuneration. To be qualified as a “professional” brief fiction market by the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers Association, magazines must have a bottom line of 8 cents per word. That may appear insignificant, but media that print non-genre books or verse don’t have similar rules, so they generally pay less, or not in any way. Submitting something like that may not be seen as worth it by individuals who can write a lot of copy quickly.
Clarke announced that they had discovered a couple of chief references for registries that feature their place for entries associated with various chatbot specialists who give people advice on generating money. They have been tracking the web traffic from those websites and thus are aware of the origin. Additionally, Clarke has a friend at another magazine who is also included in that list. They observed that they rank lower on the list and they both receive submissions from the same individual, who invariably submits his work after a few minutes. They are progressing through the list in order.
Clarke has yet to declare when he will start accepting works for his magazine again, but as of right now, he is looking into approaches to avoid spam.
Clarke advised that authors keep their distance from any questionable behavior and if in doubt, not to proceed with it. He stated that the industry is currently facing a fresh challenge and it could take a while to sort out all the particulars.