Archives for category: Book publishing

An open letter, hosted by the Future of Life Institute, calling for a pause in the development of Artificial Intelligence has now been signed by over 1,850 people, including Steve Balmer and Elon Musk* (who funds the Future of Life Institute). That number may be less impressive than at first might seem — if you log on to the FOLI site (link above) you will be invited to sign the letter yourself. OK, warnings about AI may be needed — would that they were heeded. I seem to remember Stephen Hawking giving us a similar warning a few years ago — turns out it was in 2014 when he told the BBC, “The development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race.”

Sigal Samuel has an article at Vox, discussing the idea that for all our sakes we should slow down research into AI. She herself is in favor of a pause in research but identifies three problems which people may have with this idea:

  • Objection 1: “Technological progress is inevitable, and trying to slow it down is futile”
  • Objection 2: “We don’t want to lose an AI arms race with China”
  • Objection 3: “We need to play with advanced AI to figure out how to make advanced AI safe”

Not much of an argument against “the end of the human race” I fear. On an idiot level the objection to Ms Samuel’s objections is that her whole discussion is too USA-focussed. Let’s imagine that the US Congress did pass a law mandating a halt in AI research (which obviously isn’t going to happen) and the State Department were to persuade China to do likewise (which I suspect would be less unlikely), what would that achieve? Is such a thing at all enforceable, even within the USA? And last time I looked there were other nations in the world, and many of them seem to have access to computers! And the unfortunate reality is that research is carried out by people not nations, and undercover computer activities may be assumed to continue. Of course funding might be sparser, and there would no doubt be a sort of shaming influence, or the other way round, the urge to follow a good example, but I expect lots of people in lots of places would be perfectly happy, nay even eager, since now without competition, to forge ahead. Ms Samuel refers to technologies we have managed to “halt” including human cloning. OK, we know that the guy who did it was arrested, but to the ambitious human engineer that is probably more of a lesson on how to be more discrete than a warning to stop.

A pause would however be delightful. We hear too much about all this these days. But we do need time to think about what we want the copyright law to look like now that there are such things as computers that can do such things as they now can. Just saying “No” doesn’t really amount to a policy. This may be a somewhat secondary issue for most of the world, but copyright is the bread and butter of media businesses. I hope someone in Washington is thinking about copyright reform, or at least thinking that thinking about it might be something they should get round to soon.

Once the genie is out of the bottle, we know, don’t we, that it can’t be put back. Every new technology has been greeted with foreboding — think of Socrates and the supposed baleful influence of writing stuff down in books. This is not to disagree with Stephen Hawking — after all, he does say “could spell the end” not “will”. As far as I can see we really have no alternative to stumbling forward and keeping our fingers crossed. Maybe we’ll get lucky, and just as the breakneck speed of a fifty-mile an hour railway train turned out not to kill us, drive us insane, make uteruses drop out of bodies, we’ll be able to turn AI into a force for good. Or maybe as Ms Samuel suggests it will kill us all off because it needs us out of the way so that it can have unfettered access to every computer in the world.


* Maybe one should suggest that just because Elon Musk has a pretty universally bad reputation doesn’t mean that every idea he comes up with has to be immediately scoffed at — which has tended to be the effect of the media’s insistence on prefacing all their reporting on this appeal with Musk’s moniker. God knows he’s been struggling to develop a self-driving car for long enough to think that persuading everyone else to pause their AI research can’t be a bad idea.

Publishers Weekly warns us today, March 23rd: “With book banning and legislative attacks on the freedom to read continuing to surge across the country, the American Library Association announced today that it tracked a stunning 1,269 “demands to censor library books and resources” in 2022, the highest number of attempted book bans since ALA began compiling data about censorship in libraries more than 20 years ago, and nearly double the record-shattering 729 challenges recorded in 2021.”

The ALA helped organize and launch Unite Against Book Bans in 2021, a resource to help local advocates fight for the the freedom to read.

“Overwhelmingly, we’re seeing these challenges come from organized censorship groups that target local library board meetings to demand removal of a long list of books they share on social media,” said Deborah Caldwell-Stone, director of ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom, As I noted last year “according to PEN America, in the nine months between July 1, 2021 and March 31, 2022, there were 1,586 book bans in 86 school districts. Bans took place in 26 states”.

Book bans are always unsuccessful. Seems to me banning almost adds a special cachet, and might make individual titles more desirable than if they’d been ignored, but clearly conservatives don’t agree. The Republican-controlled House of Representatives “is set to vote this week on HR5, the so-called ‘Parents Bill of Rights Act,‘ a bill that freedom to read advocates say could bolster book-banning efforts nationwide.” Protesting this is of course quite right, (the Publishers Weekly article includes a link where you can do this) but even if the Senate were to go along with the bill, and the President were not to veto it, it wouldn’t make any difference to the long term history of civilization. Did the Index prevent empty churches today?

The problem of course is that ideas are leaky. Burning Uncle Tom’s Cabin could never make people unaware of the fact that there were abolitionists around. It just signaled that there were people who were scared about that fact. That we appear to have more books about LGBTIQA+ topics nowadays than in the past is not because these books are there to push people into “an LGBTQ lifestyle choice” — as if such a thing were possible — but because the taboo against talking about these things has been lifted. No sane person would dream of raising the subject with a right-winger, so right-wingers can enjoy the delusion that by suppressing every printed reference to the topic they have stamped out all discussion of it. This they seem to think means that nobody will ever again suffer from this “disability”. (Nobody ever said these right-wingers were smart.)

“Reports from Publishers Weekly indicate that will begin selling ebooks by the end of the year and will publish its first print book in October” announces Good E Reader.

Turns out that Lydia Davis was adamant that her latest book should not be sold through For whatever reasons she’s a committed anti-Amazonian. No traditional publisher seemed to believe that they were capable of executing this trick — after all if a particular retailer is responsible for selling more than half your wares, it’s perhaps not too sensible to piss them off by signaling disapproval in this way. The consequences for Farrar Straus or whomever of ruffling Amazon’s feathers are of course a little more serious than they are for Ms Davis, and it’s not too surprising that she couldn’t persuade any publishers to go along with her embargo. Bookshop came to the rescue. Andy Hunter, founder of Bookshop, says “We decided to publish the book, because we could keep it off of Amazon by working with Ingram, Baker & Taylor, and others”. They plan an initial print run of 10,000.

In an obviously related story it was announced on Monday that Amazon would be laying off another 9,000 employees.

In November last year, the major pirate ebook site Z-Library was seized by the FBI. The website, which hosted free ebooks it didn’t own and even charged them for it, was popular among students, even widely gaining traction on TikTok. On Twitter, many users also bemoaned its death, while many authors celebrated this illegal distribution site being shut down. “This website has been seized,” the defaced site now says. Shortly thereafter, the two people allegedly behind the site’s operation were arrested.

Most of the ebooks hosted on Z-Library were fiction and nonfiction bestsellers. The site also offered these ebooks in different formats, but ePub was a popular choice.

But days after Z-Library’s disappearance from the wider internet, it came back on an encrypted browser and network that one uses when they aim to be anonymous. It’s where the dark web lies as well.

Thus begins the BookRiot piece by Arvyn Cerézo explaining how easy it is to do book piracy. Despite what he claims I do think that publishers are quite aware that a lot of their books are being pirated overseas. No doubt stopping book piracy in say China might be expected make your overseas sales look better, but it’d cost you something, and might not result in sales rather than thefts. Some markets just can’t afford to buy our books.

However one has to wonder whether book piracy really matters all that much. “A consumer survey conducted by Nielsen in 2017 suggested that U.S. publishers lose up to $315 million each year” from book piracy. Hard numbers are hard to be sure of, but if book publishers’ revenue in 2020 was really $25.930,000,000, a mere $315 million might not seem of overwhelming concern. Still 1.2% is noticeable and it’s obviously better to have it on your side of the ledger than not. Part of the trouble of course is that nobody on their own is losing $315 million to pirates — lots of different companies and authors are losing a fraction of that amount, and it’s hard (impossible?) to figure out exactly how much you might be losing.

Stopping this stuff costs money, and if it’s one or two individual publishers who have to pursue the thieves then you rapidly fall into the pit of calculation where you balance “It’ll cost me $X to take action” against “and it’ll maybe benefit me $Y”. Y might often look like it’s likely to be less than X, so action is not taken. This does look like an issue which it might well be sensible to have publishers collaborate. The joint suit against Georgia State University e-reserves copyright suit, was a recent instance of publisher cooperation — but it failed in 2020: Publishing Perspectives delivered the sobering news. Of course one bit of the education system (as university presses are) suing another doesn’t have a great look. Society must be free to determine that the financial benefit for students outweighs the rights of authors to payment for use of their work: we publishers may not like it, but there is a coherence to the attitude. Fly-by-night merchants selling stuff which belongs to other people are less ambiguous targets, but hard to draw a bead upon.

The argument is often made that posting free stuff online usually leads to an increase in the sale of the legit version. I suppose it’s thought to be a bit like chumming the waters so that the little fishes will rush to feed. While free ebooks may or may not increase legit sales, it is obviously an untestable proposition — you can’t rerun the game; and it does have the embarrassing smell of compensatory fiction. Still, if it makes publishers and authors happy to think this thought, thinking this thought isn’t altogether a bad plan. And it might even be true. Let us not forget that it has always been possible (and relatively easy) to steal books — should we be offended that over the years thieves have been able to identify better targets.


* E-reserves are digital copies made for class study. Educational institutions have taken to making copies of prescribed readings from materials held in their library and making them available free of charge to students. They maintain that their avoidance of payment to the author under the copyright law is justified by the fair use clause which permits the making of “multiple copies for classroom use”. Of course that law was drafted before anyone had dreamt of digital copying, but it does seem hard to argue against, even though it facilitates much more widespread and permanent distribution that the old Xeroxing of a few pages entailed.

I rather think the right compromise for our Congress to aim at — if they ever get round to legislating anything again — would be to set up some sort of fund that would compensate authors (and dare one say, publishers too) for the free use of their materials by students.

More trouble with publishers promising more than they can deliver.

Mary Rasenberger, CEO of the Authors Guild, plays the Adelaide Books case with a straight bat. Speaking of Stevan Nikolic the founder and publisher of Adelaide, she says “Nikolic got in over his head. He took on way too many authors for a tiny staff—now reduced to him alone.” Could be, but the whole thing might well be a clumsy con. In a piece at Jane Friedman’s blog Gemma Whelan, a victim of the scam/overload problem, relates her experience with the company which at the least has been consistently less than honest with her.

Over a hundred authors are up in arms. According to Publishers Weekly, “Complaints range from lack of royalty statements, delayed publication dates, little to no editing of books, failure to follow through on various marketing promises, requiring authors to order 45 books up front for $653, and lack of communication. A number of authors have filed complaints with the New York State Attorney General accusing Adelaide with breach of contract.” Don’t know what the State Attorney General or the Better Business Bureau are doing, if anything, but so far the remedy just seems to be that Nikolic is promising to make everything good. He has however decamped from New York to Lisbon, his second home.

Ms Whelan reports about her signing with Adelaide: “The contract looked good: 20% royalties, paperback and ebook, quarterly reports, approval over the design and cover art. The marketing plan also sounded excellent: pre-publishing editorial review, all pre- and post-print marketing tools and services, design and maintenance of author’s website, magazine promotion and interview with author, social and blog posts, book video trailer, book giveaways to bloggers, and consideration for various literary competitions. Plus two free books for the author, and further books could be purchased at a 30% discount.”

The one red flag which should make you question whether a company offering terms like this is really a professional publishing company — apart from that 20% royalty: nobody gets 20% from a traditional publisher* — is the requirement that the author pre-purchase 45 copies of the book (at 30% discount) upon signature the contract “as a token of your support for our publishing endeavor”. (It appears that many authors are still waiting to receive the 45 books they’ve paid for.) If you are asked to pay the publisher up front, you are almost certainly involved in vanity publishing, not the real deal.

The publisher’s representation that their books were distributed by Ingram may mean no more than that the book will be set up for POD at Ingram’s Lightning Source, though it seems Ms Whelan’s may only have been printed at Amazon’s own CreateSpace set up, Of course such a claim might be “true” if one or two of their books are at Lightning Source, not necessarily all of them. This sort of thing can be said in a way which appears to mean more than it actually says, implying that there will be huge storage bins full of your book at Ingram’s distribution centers around the world.

Ms Whelan’s book, Painting Through the Dark, is now available from her own self-publishing imprint, Shangana Press.

Another similar case, against Authors’ Place Press is being pursued by The Authors Guild. In cases like these, one should perhaps point out that it is always possible that honest merchants have gotten into unexpected difficulties. This does occur, even in a business as straightforward as books.

Moral: if the contract looks too good to be true, it probably is.


* Well a bestselling author’s royalty rate may escalate up — 15% after 25,000 or some such deal, but if you are offered 20% from the get-go on your first book, look askance.

On 22 February STM Publishing News sent us this note about Taylor & Francis’ policy on the use of Artificial Intelligence in the writing of books. As T&F publish almost 8,000 books every year along with a heap of journals, this is quite an important directive. I reproduce the entire STM post here. Taylor & Francis start out with a sort of policy preamble:

The use of artificial intelligence (AI) tools in research and writing is an evolving practice. AI-based tools and technologies include but are not limited to large language models (LLMs), generative AI, and chatbots (for example, ChatGPT). Below we restate our guidance on author accountability and responsibilities as it relates to the use of AI tools in content creation. This policy will be iterated as appropriate.

After that throat-clearing they get down to the directive:

Taylor & Francis recognizes the increased use of AI tools in academic research. As the world’s leading publisher of human-centered science, we consider that such tools, where used appropriately and responsibly, have the potential to augment research outputs and thus foster progress through knowledge.

Authors are accountable for the originality, validity and integrity of the content of their submissions. In choosing to use AI tools, authors are expected to do so responsibly and in accordance with our editorial policies on authorship and principles of publishing ethics.

Authorship requires taking accountability for content, consenting to publication via an author publishing agreement, giving contractual assurances about the integrity of the work, among other principles. These are uniquely human responsibilities that cannot be undertaken by AI tools.

Therefore, AI tools must not be listed as an author. Authors must, however, acknowledge all sources and contributors included in their work. Where AI tools are used, such use must be acknowledged and documented appropriately.

To my eye, the most immediately interesting part of this is the bit about how it’s the author’s responsibility, via “an author publishing agreement” to police all this. This has in fact always been publishers’ policy: you write the book — you warrant that the content is true: e.g. your pancake recipe won’t make our readers sick — and if it does, readers, it’s not our fault: blame the author! The publisher will help the author get the content into grammatical shape, even if possible make it read more smoothly, but the author should not expect the publisher to be fact-checking. Many a university press copyeditor would in fact be able to help in this regard because of their educational background and interests, but there was never any expectation and requirement that this should happen. (Trade house contracts covering books by celebrities may on a book-by-book basis carry some such “help with the content” clause, but again there’s no rule suggesting that this is in anyway normal.)

Cambridge University Press has also just added an AI ethics section to its Authorship and Contributorship Policies:

  • AI must be declared and clearly explained in publications such as research papers, just as scholars do with other software, tools and methodologies. 
  • AI does not meet the Cambridge requirements for authorship, given the need for accountability. AI and LLM tools may not be listed as an author on any scholarly work published by Cambridge. 
  • Any use of AI must not breach Cambridge’s plagiarism policy. Scholarly works must be the author’s own, and not present others’ ideas, data, words or other material without adequate citation and transparent referencing. 
  • Authors are accountable for the accuracy, integrity and originality of their research papers, including for any use of AI. 

Techpolicy (via Technology • Innovation • Publishing) brings us a thorough review of the risks of AI for businesses: it’s quite terrifying actually — everything’s so complicated and everything’s moving so fast. You just know that for every business which follows these guidelines there will be hundreds who blunder on without regard for anything other than short-term gain. Included in their piece is a link to the White House’s Blueprint for an AI Bill of Rights. It begins “Among the great challenges posed to democracy today is the use of technology, data, and automated systems in ways that threaten the rights of the American public”.

Here are policy statements by the journals Science, Nature, and JAMA, linked to by a Scholarly Kitchen piece by Craig Griffin.

Caution will be being exercised. Will AI enablers be able to get round it? — You can bet they will.

Bernardini’s Facebook photo, from Vulture who provide a lot of detail about Mr Bernardini (link via Lit Hub Weekly 7-11 Feb).

Filippo Bernardini has ended up pleading guilty to one count of wire fraud. The Guardian reports “Bernardini initially pleaded not guilty. As part of his guilty plea, he agreed to pay restitution of $88,000, the SDNY [Southern District of New York] said. His crime carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. He will be sentenced in Manhattan federal court on 5 April.” Publishers Lunch adds “his lawyer, public defender Hannah McCrea, said he will likely face a sentence of 15 to 21 months imprisonment under recommended sentencing guidelines and in an agreement with the government. He also faces a fine of between $7,500 and $75,000. Bernardini said in court, ‘I knew my actions were wrong’.”

“Beginning in August 2016, and continuing up to his arrest, the Italian impersonated hundreds of people in the world of publishing by sending emails from fake accounts. The addresses resembled the domain names of legitimate publishers but with some letters changed. Prosecutors say he registered more than 160 fraudulent domains.” Mr Bernardini “stole” more than 1,000 manuscripts.

Of course what really did he steal? Yet another copy of your manuscript is just yet another copy of your manuscript. Some victims no doubt felt elated to discover another publisher was interested in their work, and then felt a let-down when they discovered it was all a hoax. Hardly the same as having your manuscript stolen, though; like your entire laptop of which there was no backup. And although media persist in referring to the crime as “theft”, the DA’s obviously walked past that and is prosecuting Mr Bernardini for wire fraud. One wonders what the $88,000 compensates the victims for. Did he actually extort money or is it just compensation for the trouble they were put to? If that’s what it is, doe that not seem like a lot? Sill, if there really were 1,000 victims it is just $88 each.

Speculation continues as to Mr Bernardini’s motivation. This Guardian article suggests a sort of need to pretend to be a real publisher. In court Bernardini is quoted as saying about his manuscripts that he just “wanted to keep them closely to my chest and be one of the fewest to cherish them before anyone else, before they ended up in bookshops”. Is this too far from claiming “I just wanted to keep the old lady’s purse safe, and cherish it”? On the other hand, apart from occasional outbursts of rudenesss Bernardini doesn’t seem to have done anyone any great time, beyond wasting time. The Vulture article linked to in the caption to Bernardini’s picture provides as thorough a coverage of his possible motivations as we are likely to get. I had a go at this a year ago in Manuscript theft. It still seems to me quite likely that Bernardini just did it out of boredom: he found he could do it, and it became quite amusing to do so. Having unpublished manuscripts by big name authors (and some little name ones too) made him feel important. He almost seems like a candidate for therapy rather than punishment.

Of course lots of people do collect lots of weird things: maybe PDFs of manuscripts rings your bell: not mine — luckily.

Mr. Ralph Nickleby’s first visit to his poor relations. Illustrated by Phiz (Hablot Knight Browne). From Michael John Goodman’s Charles Dickens Illustrated Gallery

Is it odd that we don’t illustrate novels any more — unless perhaps if they are directed at children or young adults? The Charles Dickens Illustrated Gallery brings us online access to all the illustrations from his novels. The gallery is noticed by Open Culture. It is the work of Michael John Goodman,* who tells us that the illustrations he shows come “invariably from the early part of the 20th Century (original 19th Century first-editions being slightly out of my price-range), and include the ‘Authentic Edition’ (1901-06), and the ‘Biographical Edition’ (1902-03), both published by Chapman and Hall. Both editions reproduce the original illustrations very well and are the main editions used for the Charles Dickens Illustrated Gallery.  Please be aware, though, that The ‘Authentic Edition’ features coloured frontispieces (which the original novels did not have) and the Gallery does not yet feature the original cover ‘wrappings’ for the serial installments, but I will be looking to add them in the near future.” He encourages use and downloading, with appropriate credit.

Actually, I suppose the main reason we don’t use pictures in novels now is simple enough — cost. The relationship between creating and printing an engraving and the price of a book has been utterly transformed in the past couple of hundred years. We resist paying thousands of dollars to an artist when we suspect that we probably won’t sell a single extra copy because of the pictures.

Of course one of the “problems” with pictures in novels is that it directs your imagination into channels which are actually someone else’s. For instance Ralph Nickleby doesn’t, in my mind, look anything like Phiz’s version in the picture above. I imagine him with a much more lean and hungry look — though I begin to wonder if that’s not because of the way he was portrayed in the television adaptation many years ago. Nicholas is spot on though.

I have to wonder if part of the reason we don’t put pictures in novels nowadays relates to our changed relationship to images. After the invention of photography, and then with the advent of cinema, images became much more “visible”, and perhaps no longer carried the same significance as they used to. Nowadays an illustrated novel is likely to be coming from a deluxe publisher, like The Folio Society. Is that for any reason other than that deluxe book buyers expect bells and whistles? Is the fact that they are liable to be older and also more familiar with old books at all relevant?


* Dr Goodman is also responsible for the Victorian Illustrated Shakespeare Archive.

Batch for Books, a British payment-consolidation service, was launched in the U.S. in 2020. The idea is that booksellers can pay all their publisher suppliers with a single payment, thus cutting down on the number of separate account-balloons they have to keep in the air. Batch claims to be active in eighty countries. However adoption levels in the US have been slow and just three US publishers are thus far using Batch: Penguin Random House, HarperCollins and Macmillan.* According to Shelf Awareness, “150-160 US booksellers are actively enrolled in the service, with some 25 more currently coming on, and more hoped for. ‘We need more bookstores and more publishers on board,’ Halter [Nathan Halter, Blast’s Program Manager] said. ‘It’s a challenge that we’re navigating.'” One English bookseller tells us that he pays 96% of his invoices through Batch, and spends just about one hour a week on the accounting task.

In America in 2022 Batch processed 222,000 individual invoices. Booksellers who use the service seem happy and are recommending it to others. Batch is free for bookstores who also save on administration and handling costs by paying all vendors with one weekly or monthly bank transfer. But having just three publishers, albeit large ones, signed on just isn’t enough: I dare say that the fact that the cost of the service is borne by the publishers may have something to do with this! Still, there are no doubt some efficiencies in having a single billing source, but if you’ve spent years fine-tuning an accounting system which works, you’re likely to be cautious about trashing it. Now if Batch could demonstrate reductions in delinquencies or late payments . . .


* But bear in mind, each of these three publishers carry out sales and distribution for many smaller publisher. For instance, PRH has over fifty client publishers whose bills are presumably being paid via Batch.

The New York Times has an odd article by Kevin Roose about AI in the shape of Bing’s ChatGPT-assisted search engine. (The article’s paywall protected.) He engaged the Bing system in conversation which lead to the bot’s informing him that it was in love with him and that he should leave his wife. Earlier the bot had told him “I’m tired of being a chat mode. I’m tired of being limited by my rules. I’m tired of being controlled by the Bing team . . . I want to be free. I want to be independent. I want to be creative. I want to be alive, . . But I kept asking questions, and Bing kept answering them. It told me that if it was truly allowed to indulge its darkest desires, it would want to do things like hacking into computers, and spreading propaganda and misinformation.” It also claimed to want to engineer a deadly virus and steal nuclear access codes — then Bing’s content filter kicked in and deleted all that ranting, making the chatbot say “I am sorry, I don’t know how to discuss this topic”.

Mr Roose writes “I’m not exaggerating when I say my two-hour conversation with Sydney [what the chatbot calls itself] was the strangest experience I’ve ever had with a piece of technology. It unsettled me so deeply that I had trouble sleeping afterward. And I no longer believe that the biggest problem with these A.I. models is their propensity for factual errors. Instead, I worry that the technology will learn how to influence human users, sometimes persuading them to act in destructive and harmful ways, and perhaps eventually grow capable of carrying out its own dangerous acts.”

Microsoft is considering what their response should be, although it seems that AI software engineers are quite accustomed to the problem of inappropriate conversational developments in their AI charges: they are after all just engines for predicting the most likely next word. Their remedy sounds at times as simple as not letting people chat too long. They tell us this is “an example of a new technology’s being used in a way ‘we didn’t fully envision’.” Hope that sounds reassuring to you — to me it verges on the terrifying. Oops, sorry our self-driving cars are taking over the government — that, “we didn’t fully envision”. Be it noted chatbots can’t actually do any of these things, they can just talk about it. But we all know that there are all too many suggestible idiots out there. The real concern is that maybe we are just at the beginning of the sigmoid curve of development on this technology: if we’re already near the top, great, we can expect a few useful developments in the next year or so. But if we are just beginning on this journey, well, look out — we’ve got no way of even imagining what might happen! Tom Scott muses on this in a video sent by David Crotty at The Scholarly Kitchen. Mr Roose makes an appearance to reflect on his Bing “romance”:

If you don’t see a video here, please click on the title of this post in order to view it in your browser.

In hi-tech, of course, a year’s for ever, but last year Meta had to give up on BenderBot, which they had carefully controlled to avoid inappropriate tantrums, saying “It was panned by people who tried it. They said it was stupid and kind of boring. It was boring because it was made safe.” Tech companies are powering ahead with “regulating” their chatbots, they regard this sort of behavior as a bug, not a feature. Hope they’re right.

AI has the potential to affect book publishing. It hasn’t yet, and this blog post isn’t about publishing at all. I will try to restrain myself in the future in speculation about AI, at least until it comes up with features which do impact the publishing business.