Sci-Fi Publisher Shuts Down Submissions After AI Spam

'Robot-generated literature' is filling Amazon's Kindle store, too
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 22, 2023 10:15 AM CST
Sci-Fi Publisher Overwhelmed With AI Submissions
A ChatGPT prompt is shown on a device in Brooklyn, New York, on Jan. 5.   (AP Photo/Peter Morgan, File)

The Hugo Award-winning magazine Clarkesworld is one of the few paying publishers to welcome open submissions for science fiction short stories from new writers, per the Guardian. But it's now put an end to that practice, at least for a while, after receiving a flood of AI-generated pitches, which threaten to upend the world of publishing. "It's clear that business as usual won’t be sustainable," founding editor Neil Clarke wrote in a Feb. 15 blog post, noting submissions that appeared to rework published pieces to make them appear original were once a minor nuisance, with about 10 seen each month. Since the unveiling of ChatGPT and other artificial intelligence chatbots, however, there's been a "spike in plagiarism" to the point that 38% of all submissions are spam.

The magazine rejected 120 or so submissions and banned their "authors" in January, according to Clarke. Then, in the first 20 days of February, it banned more than 500. "If the field can't find a way to address this situation, things will begin to break," he wrote, noting short-fiction markets can't afford to automate plagiarism-detection tools—"prone to false negatives and positives" and combated by similar tools offering "to help authors prevent detection"—into the submissions process. "To make matters worse, the technology is only going to get better, so detection will become more challenging," he wrote.

Though Clarke warned publishers "might seek the safety of solicited submissions or offering private submission opportunities to a narrower set of 'known' authors instead of open calls," putting another barrier in the face of unpublished writers, he updated his post on Monday to note that Clarkesworld had "temporarily closed submissions" after receiving more than 50 apparently AI-generated pieces "before noon." Editors of academic journals are also "increasingly faced with the challenge of identifying and rejecting papers written by AI," according to infectious diseases researcher Nigel Curtis. Meanwhile, "robot-generated literature" is filling the self-published section of Amazon's Kindle store, "raising concerns about disinformation, ethics, and low-quality reads," per PCMag. (Read more artificial intelligence stories.)

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