AI-made children’s storybook leads to slew of death threats

Alice and Sparkle, an AI made children’s storybook

Alice and Sparkle, an AI made children’s storybook

AI art platforms such as Midjourney or Stable Diffusion have led to mass outcry by those within the art community. As AI art steals from artists online, plagiarising their work, many are understandably upset at the increasingly popular software.

Following the release of popular AI art software, 28-year-old design manager Ammaar Reshi used the technology to create a children’s storybook. As expected, Reshi’s announcement resulted in a wave of backlash by artists and fans of art communities.

Reshi’s book is mostly made with AI generated content. Even the simple children’s story is AI generated with minor edits from the techbro. Using the text generator AI ChatGPT, a story about a young girl named Alice and her robot Sparkle was created.

Speaking to Buzzfeed, Reshi explained that he simply edited the AI-generated story to add more characterisation to his protagonists. This included making Alice more curious while making her robot more self-aware, but the main bulk of the story was made by AI.

Afterwards, Reshi fed prompts into Midjourney AI, a program that generates artwork based on text. To fill the whopping 14 pages that make up the children’s storybook, he described scenes to the AI program which, in turn, generated images.

“I just started putting prompts like ‘young girl’ and some descriptors: ‘blue eyes,’ ‘simple dress,’ ‘excited,’ ‘curious’. That yielded some results,” he told the outlet. After a few hundred rejections, the book was finished and published on Amazon just hours after deciding to make the book.

After release, Reshi revealed his book on Twitter, immediately being met with backlash. The AI user was informed that the generative content he’s selling is based on stolen art and text from human workers. Book illustrators, independent artists and more all came out to explain that selling AI works is dangerous.

“Putting aside ethics of the training data and the fact output can’t currently be copyrighted… isn’t your description misleading customers?” one commenter replied. “AI didn’t AID you in writing and illustrating this book, it literally did it all for you. As a kid-lit author & illustrator I’m aghast.”

A number of children’s authors, including Josie Dom and Anuper Roper, have publicly lambasted the release of a fully AI-generated book. Furthermore, the authors don’t believe that Reshi should be allowed to make money from a product that can only exist by using stolen, plagiarised images.

“Artists are often underpaid, and this won’t help them. Their work is being stolen, basically,” Dom said. “The use of AI in creating stories will create a proliferation of poor-quality stories, both on the writing and the illustration side.”

Dom’s worries are correct on both fronts. Not only does AI generated content harm authors and artists, but the content it generates is often not good enough. The storylines it creates are basic and formulaic when they do make sense, and images are often filled with issues.

As Twitter user Corey Brickley points out, images in Reshi’s product is plagued with issues. However, without the skill to fix them, those who rely on AI images can only sell poor quality content.

Unfortunately, some users online have taken to sending death threats to the bookseller in response to his product. Reshi told Buzzfeed that he has received numerous threats over his announcement, something that no one wants to have.

A lot of work needs to be done on the legal boundaries of AI generated content. This will probably happen soon, especially if AI models are fed content from Disney, the most litigious company around.

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