Today, commercial AI programs can already write articles, books, compose music, and render images in response to text prompts, and their ability to do these tasks is improving at a rapid clip. A wide assortment of tools to help writers write are commercially available today and show great potential to expedite and improve many writers’ output. At the same time, the use of AI in place of human writers is right around the corner for many kinds of written work, and it threatens to crowd the market for human authored books.

AI-generated literary and artistic works, even in their most impressive form, are essentially mimicry of human expressive works. AI generative technologies (i.e, AI machines that are used to generate output) are “trained” on mass amounts of pre-existing works (e.g., text, images, recorded music), where the copied works are broken down to their components and rules and their patterns deciphered. The consumer facing AI machines available to date have been trained on works copied by internet crawlers without licenses or permission.

While AI-generated works might look or sound like human-created works, they lack human intelligence and feeling. AI cannot feel, think, or empathize. It lacks the essential human faculties that move the arts forward. Nevertheless, the speed at which AI can create artistic and literary works to compete with human-authored works poses a significant threat to both the economic and cultural value of the latter.

You may ask, why do we care if human authorship survives? Isn’t this just another disruptive technology that does what humans can do, only more efficiently?

Using AI to produce literary and artistic works differs from other uses of AI in one stark aspect. Human communities are bound together by culture—literature, art, music, and other forms of expression. The rise of AI necessitates legal and policy interventions that balance development of useful AI technologies while ensuring that human authorship is protected. We need to ensure that human creators are compensated, not just for the sake of the creators, but so our books and arts continue to reflect both our real and imagined experiences, open our minds, teach us new ways of thinking, and move us forward as a society, rather than rehash old ideas.

Read more about our AI advocacy here.