How to Avoid Buying AI Books, Products on Amazon or Online Stores

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There’s just something about the black and white drawings in “Floral Whispers, a Coloring Book for Women.”

At first glance, the book is just 26 pages of beautiful women with impressive bone structures, surrounded or covered in flowers. But look closely and you will see Notice that some don’t have the right number of fingers, or the fingers form elongated alien hands.

The $7.95 paperback by author “Der Vive,” available on Amazon, has all the features of being generated by artificial intelligence. It is self-published by an unknown author with no internet history. There are no reviews and it was only listed in the last few months. All of the images have some sort of distortion or oddity typically associated with AI, such as incorrect body proportions and at least one mix between a flower and a breast.

Artificial intelligence that is readily available is changing how we communicate, work and create. Now, it’s making inroads into e-commerce as AI-generated self-help books, mugs, wall art and coloring books proliferate on online marketplaces like Amazon and Etsy. Third-party vendors are not required to disclose what is AI-derived, and it is nearly impossible to confirm whether something is AI based on appearance alone. The end result is more scam products in an already chaotic online-shopping landscape. For consumers, this can mean accidentally buying something of poor quality or jeopardizing the livelihood of real artists.

“It’s a tragedy,” said Henry Ajder, researcher and expert on generative AI and DeepFex. “It’s just an extension of practices that have existed for a long time. In the past, people would steal other people’s artwork and put it on T-shirts, plagiarize a book. The model is the same for people using AI.”

What’s wrong with buying AI-generated goods?

There are people, even artists, who make AI-generated products or things that are transparent about the process. other items Can’t reveal their origins but are made so clearly by the AI ​​that it leaves little suspense and adds to the charm.

“I think that the novelty and strangeness of AI art can make it very attractive to some people,” said Brit Paris, an assistant professor at Rutgers University who studies AI and DeepFex. “I initially wanted people to put some weird-looking art on the wall and brag about it being made from AI.”

However, in situations where the involvement of AI is not obvious or intended, a product can be a scam, fraud and even dangerous, experts say. Marketers often use AI to reduce costs and time and leverage popular category items for easy monetization.

Copyright and intellectual property issues around AI are still up in the air. The most popular generative AI tools such as OpenAI’s ChatGPT, image-generator Dal-e, Google’s Bard and Stability AI’s Stable Diffusion were trained. On content scraped from the Internet, including copyrighted images and writing. Original creators — writers, illustrators, artists, journalists and photographers — say they are not paid or credited for their work.

AI can even be used to impersonate specific creatives.

Several image generators have been used to create art in the style of Polish artist Greg Rutkowski, who creates elaborate fantasy landscapes, and has spoken out against AI tools. Author Jane Friedman found several books published on Amazon that used her name and mimicked her writing style. She believes the removed books may have used an AI that was trained to use her writing to sound like her and leverage her brand.

When it comes to books, misinformation can be dangerous. Amazon recently removed a guide on foraging for mushrooms that some readers claimed was generated by AI and could give false advice about whether mushrooms are edible or poisonous.

“The accuracy problem is real,” said AI ethics researcher and consultant Ravit Dotan. “What people don’t realize is that AI that generates text is not optimized to generate truth. It is optimized to generate attractive text.”

What can be done about AI products?

AI-generated content is not banned at any of the major e-commerce companies that use third-party sellers, including Amazon and Etsy. And so far, no one has required any kind of label or disclosure on products made primarily using AI tools. Even the technology companies behind the tools used to make words and images don’t need to label things.

The Authors Guild, which represents many authors whose work has been used to train AI tools, is calling for legislation and asking companies to disclose when AI has written a book.

“We see it as consumer protection, but it’s also a way to segregate the book market because otherwise, you’d see an influx of AI-generated content on platforms like Kindle,” said Mary Rasenberger, chief executive of the Authors Guild. . “It will remove (demand) from the market for human creative works.”

Rasenberger said she doesn’t think AI can be locked away forever and sees the space as a useful tool for writers. The guild’s goal is to ensure that AI is regulated, licensed, legal, with money going back to the authors, she said.

Amazon added a condition earlier this month that any self-published books using Kindle Direct Publishing would tell Amazon when they were AI-generated. However, currently that information is not shown to shopkeepers. For consumers, it is a big risk.

“Amazon is constantly evaluating emerging technologies and is committed to providing the best shopping, reading and publishing experience for authors and customers,” Amazon spokeswoman Ashley Vanicek said in a statement. “All in-store publishers must adhere to our content guidelines, regardless of how the content was created. We invest significant time and resources to ensure that our guidelines are followed and remove books that do not follow these guidelines.”

(Amazon founder Jeff Bezos has The Washington Post and Newspaper Interim The CEO, Patty Stonecipher, sits on Amazon’s board.)

Etsy said it is also monitoring new technology but has no rules against selling items made primarily with AI. The company says those products will be subject to the same quality standards as other listings. Walmart did not respond to a request for comment.

Many tech firms are also racing to build tools to identify AI output, Doton said. For example, Google recently announced that it is working on a watermarking tool that will be invisible to the human eye.

How can you tell what AI is?

So what can a consumer do? Until laws and labels come in, it’s up to the buyer to figure out what’s AI-generated and what’s just a weird t-shirt design. This role is not new to anyone who has shopped online in the last 10 years. Stores with third-party sellers are flooded with knockoffs and poor-quality options, and once-useful tools like reviews are often overrun with fake positive posts.

As with all scam products online, you may have to fall back on some old fashioned detective work. AI-generated text and images have some commonalities, but they’re not flawless — especially as AI image and text generators are rapidly increasing in quality. (“There are some tools today that pretend to be AI-generated when they detect text, but they’re not at all reliable,” Dotton said.)

Start by viewing all available product images with inside page previews of books and zoom in or read the small print. For images, look at the background, which may show more error than the main subject. If it’s a person depicted in art, look at the hands, ears, eyes, and general proportions and see if there’s anything unusual. Always count on fingers.

For text, find the author and see if they have any kind of social media presence. Being a self-published author isn’t necessarily a sign that something is AI, but books churned out by AI will typically be published independently. Descriptions are often created with AI chatbots, so read them carefully to see if they make sense and describe the product listed. Check the page number to see if the length makes sense.

“I’d say it’s very new in store and it seems like it’s a very popular and old imitation from a well-known publisher,” said Jacob Metcalf, program director of the “AI on the Ground” initiative. Nonprofit Data and Society. “A pattern I’ve found is that scammers are using common tropes from popular books.”

Research the seller thoroughly, look at their other products, business names, and how long they’ve been around. Read more in this guide to avoid scams when shopping online.

For our potential AI-generated coloring book, the author was unknown, the images were full of errors, and the entire title was a long-winded attempt to capitalize on keywords: “Floral Whispers: A Coloring Adventure for Women A Tribute to Femininity and the Enchanting Beauty of Blooming Florals Artistic Honor and Floral Magic.

Anyone who only wants to paint women and flowers will probably be disappointed.

“Whatever AI generates, it will never be as good as human-generated content. Not if you want anything with sound, meaning or expression,” said Rasenberger of the Authors Guild. “AI is always based on the past, there is no magic. is Just a blender.”

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