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Posted on Jul 04, 2023

Panel Discussion — Artificial Intelligence in Publishing

Below is the transcript from our live chat on June 27th, 2023, where a panel of publishing professionals — David Provolo (designer), Jonathan Oliver (editor), and Alex Cody Foster (ghostwriter) — discussed the impact of AI on publishing and their individual services, now and in the future. 

This transcript has been edited for length and clarity.

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Skip to 2:58 for the start of the talk.

Martin: Hello everyone and welcome to this special edition of Reedsy Live, where we invite publishing professionals to talk about topics that concern them in the industry or as freelancers. Today, we’ll be talking about artificial intelligence in publishing. 

I’ve brought on a panel of freelancers here on Reedsy and we'll be discussing what AI means to us, what implications it’s currently having in the publishing and freelancing world, and where we see it going in the future. 

AI is a form of machine learning where you use algorithms to interpret massive sets of data and, these days, when we talk about AI, we’re usually talking about generative AI. That is, the ability to create ‘content’ — whether that’s writing, images, music, or anything else — by inputting and interpreting prompts. 

There have been a lot of advances in AI in just the last year. I remember going to an author’s conference exactly one year ago where authors and editors were introduced to DALL-E, one of the first AI image generators, and we had a good old laugh about it. Now, a year later, we’re looking at the newest iterations of it and things are changing at an exponential rate. It’s pretty hard to keep up with. 



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Using AI tools

Martin: I spoke to all of you a little bit beforehand and none of you currently use AI in your professional capacity apart from yourself David. Is that right?

David: Yes. I've used it once for one book cover. I was approaching the process as I usually do. I started by gathering different elements to compose within Photoshop. But the image that the client asked for was so unique and specific that I couldn’t find suitable options via stock photography and thought I’d try this AI that everyone's talking about. 

I found a few AI generators of varying quality and one of the things about AI generated images is that they sometimes come with undesirable artifacts and distortions that perhaps won't work. But from my experience on this one book, it really worked out well because I got a couple of images that I could work with. They didn't come ready-made, but it provided a great foundation from which to build. It still had to spend a few hours in Photoshop, tweaking it to get it just right for the client but the foundation was really unique and I would certainly use it again. 

I think there are issues of resolution though. The resolution that you receive, especially for free websites, is not 300 DPI, print quality. 

Martin: This morning I downloaded Photoshop to try the beta version of ‘Generative Fill’. I believe it works at a fairly high rate.

For example, this is the cover of Station Eleven. I have no idea how to use Photoshop and have never really used AI, but all you have to do is select the area you want to fill and it'll bring up the option of ‘Generative Fill’. You can input a prompt, but if you don't, it guesses that you want to extend what you have already. Within a few seconds, it will usually give you a few different options and variations. This back cover is based on 10 minutes of playing around and just following the instructions without knowing exactly what I was doing. 

As another example, I wanted to put a Ford Cortina on the cover so I typed that into the search. But it turns out that Adobe has restrictions on brand names. I think it’s a licensing thing. So I put “1970s Sedan,” “blue” and “photorealistic” instead and got one good option as well as two options that vaguely resemble cars. Here’s one with a caravan:

The perspective is a little bit off, but it’s not absolutely awful considering this is the beta version and I’m not a prompt engineer. Considering I picked this up in 20 minutes, the potential already seems very powerful.

Jon, you've worked as an editor and publisher for a long time. In a sense, AI has been in use for a while, with tools like spell check and the grammar function of Grammarly. Would you ever use these?

Jon: Oh yeah. I use the spell checking function in Word. Grammarly is only something I've come across recently and a couple of my clients have mentioned it to me. When I’ve spoken to editor colleagues about it, the attitudes have ranged from “it’s a useful tool” to “it’s an absolute bag of poo.” I can see why, because sometimes the text that Grammarly suggests might be correct, but it might not be in the spirit of the piece. 

There's a difference between being right and being of a piece. So it can be a useful tool but I haven't used much AI and I'm sure, like you gents, that it's only really been in the last six months that it's seemed to create panic across social media, like “the robots have already risen, et cetera, and they're going to steal our jobs.”



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Diminishing the art form

Martin: I suppose editors work for the publisher and could be the last with their backs against the walls, whereas Alex, you are a writer by trade. You probably feel the pinch more acutely than most people. But I understand that you have a mixed history with AI?

Alex: Yes, I'm an investor in artificial intelligence and got into blockchain platforms in 2017. Blockchain is essentially the technology behind Bitcoin, and I thought this could be very valuable in the future, so I threw a little bit of money into artificial intelligence-based blockchain platforms after actually becoming kind of obsessed with the technology. It's done really well over the years, which is sort of ironic given my views on artificial intelligence. 

I'm very objective as a person. The same thing is true for investments, writing, plots, and everything else. I’m trying to look at it from the outside and I guess the way I see it is sort of like when there weren't iPhones and you could sit in a cafe and talk with your family or your friends or your partner, and there wouldn't be this screen popping up in front of your face. There was a time when that existed. There was a time when photography was still a highly specialized art form, and now it's so ubiquitous because we all carry this phone in our pocket. We can all snap photos and videos and they go viral, you know? That art form, I think, got strongly diminished over the last 20 years since smartphones and this new technology has taken over. I guess in some way I'm worried that could happen — no, I’m worried how it will happen — to my industry. 

I ghostwrite both fiction and nonfiction and it’s fiction that’s really under threat because you can give the artificial intelligence prompts, it can write, and then you can go back as an editor or as a ghostwriter and polish it. Nonfiction is a totally different animal. That's my primary genre really. As an author under my own name, I'm writing true crime. Artificial intelligence platforms are not able to go to New York City and interview people who are on the scene, victims, perpetrators, or suspected perpetrators. It can't interview the subject of a memoir that you're ghostwriting and learn all the nuances and the little diamonds of their life story. It can't do that, so it's fiction that's under fire right now. 

Martin: As you say, with photography, there was such innovation. Every single decade had a unique look to it, and now we're getting to the point where everything is referring back: “I’m going to shoot this in eighties style” or “this looks kind of nineties,” et cetera. Is there going to be a distinctive visual look by the time we get to the 2030s?

Alex: Probably not. It's all sort of blending together now, right? It’s like a Jackson Pollock painting with all the specs and paint splatters. That's what society is becoming with the advent of technology. Everyone can be a photographer or influencer now, which is cool — I love the inclusivity of it — and yet it's sort of ironic because I feel it diminishes the age-old art form that we've had for millennia.

Stories are the lifeblood of society. We have the good versus evil, the very nature of man. It’s been painted, it’s been written about and it’s in our history. It’s such an integral part of our species and our cultures throughout the ages and now it's sort of being digitized into software. It's never happened before. 

Martin: I guess there’s an element of this discussion where it's tough to distinguish who the owner of something is. If I write something that someone thinks is just as good as Stephen King, doesn't that make me, effectively, Stephen King? Jon, as an editor and a publisher, if you had your publisher's hats on and someone came to you with a brilliant piece of writing that you suspect was generated by AI, what would your reaction be? 

Jon: I despair if it's really good because, like Alex said, what's the point of writers anymore? I'm not massively worried though. I've seen samples of AI fantasy writing, and it looks alright on the surface, but as soon as you start reading a few paragraphs, it's dreadful. It doesn't just need an edit, it needs someone to go in there and restructure it completely.

But I think the thing with generative AI for writing is that a lot of people are saying that, at the moment, it's not generative so much as plagiarizing. It can only take what's already been done and reorganize it, so to speak. So it's not creating in the same way. A generative AI doesn't feel. When you're reading a book, it's a collaborative and human experience. You’re having a shared experience with another human being, and I think most readers want that human touch in fiction. From what I've seen from friends on social media, they don't want to read books written by machines; most people want to read books written by people. I may be wrong. I'm old now. 

Martin: I think they do want that connection with a writer. But could you see a situation where, let's say, the faceless head of a publishing corporation handed you a manuscript and went, “Jon, a machine wrote this, please add some feelings to it.”

Jon: As long as they'll pay my fee, is the perfectly cynical answer to that, isn't it? I'd be interested to see what it looks like when it crops up from a purely academic point of view. I just feel that my buddies in the publishing industry prefer their novels to be written by humans, so I don't think there's this great drive towards generated content rather than supporting and serving authors at the moment. At least not in traditional publishing. But who knows whether that will change?

Making high-level decisions

Martin: I had someone booked for this discussion who's a website designer and I understand that one of the things ChatGPT is quite good at is half plagiarizing websites and designing them from the ground up. I imagine it's something that could potentially eat into a lot of his work or be used as an aid. If his job is to make a lot of high-level decisions, he could probably save time by just telling an AI what he wants it to do. All the creative decisions are made by a human being but if the execution elements are largely automated, that would free up a lot of time.

David, as a designer, does that resonate with you: the idea of your job becoming more about creativity than execution? 

David: Yeah, I do agree with that. Execution is an acquired skill, but what Alex and Jon and myself have developed over many years is that certain intangible quality. For me, it's my eye. If you hired me to design a cover, you're paying for my eye, my taste, my sense of visuals. With Alex and Jon, it's their sense of the written word. 

This might be wish casting, but as Jon said, humans want to read books written by other humans. And I hope that's true. I pledge allegiance to that. I think authors, for my case as a designer, are always going to want something bespoke that I created just for their book. AI doesn't necessarily take away from that if the tool is in the hands of someone who is taking care to craft and present it the way their inner voice tells them to. 

Martin: In this future where we see AI become a part of everyday life, with your experience in the industry, what can you guys offer clients that machines won’t be able to in the next 10 years?

Alex: I love what David was saying. It gave me some food for thought. When clients hire me, they’re not hiring a ghostwriter per se; they're hiring a human being who's had a certain amount of human experience. For example, I've lived on the streets of Los Angeles, I've lived with homeless people, I've had my nose broken, I moved out of my house at 15 and was jumped by a bunch of crackheads, I traveled across America hitchhiking, I lived in a $10 million home next to Bob Dylan in Malibu, I’ve traveled the world, and I've written in pretty much every genre because I have such a lust for life and knowledge. I have such a weirdly obsessive creative drive. You can't get that from an AI, right? People who want to hire me, they want to hire me for the depth of my knowledge and my creativity as a writer.

You can say to this program, “Give me Hemingway,” “Give me Fitzgerald,” “Give me Gillian Flynn” and, sure, it can emulate, but it can't be original. That's what we human beings bring to the table: our originality. That can never be codified or quantified or thrown into a software program and replicated. 10 years from now, it's still what we’ll bring to the table. I don't think we're going to reach this paradigm of critical mass in which people want AI generated content exclusively and human generated content becomes like vinyl records or CDs. When's the last time you saw a CD? I don’t think humans are going to become CDs. AI will be the CDs as far as creative content is concerned. 

But, the issue that we face as creatives is that there certainly are threats five years down the road or even 10 years down the road. When I was introduced to ChatGPT, I was actually chatting with a client who said “Hey man, have you heard of this new ChatGPT thing? You should check it out because it could help you or it could destroy your industry.” So he shared a screen to show me. I was working on a book proposal for him and was halfway done. I've had a lot of success with getting proposals matched with agents and publishers and have optioned a couple to film and TV so I do a decent job with them. But this AI kind of blew my mind because we were on a section of the outline and fed it a prompt and it did such a phenomenal job. It scoured the internet and all the peer review journals and got direct quotations. It did basically what I would hire an assistant researcher to do for me in a matter of seconds. It was kind of terrifying in that regard because it can't replicate exactly what I do, but it can replicate about 30% of what I do. 

Martin: Jon, as an editor, I guess people want to hire a professional to get results and a book that is flawless, but how much do you think, from your experience, it’s also about personal collaboration and a human touch? 

Jon: It’s like Alex said. You get the human touch and when I read your text, I'm engaging with it on an emotional level as well as checking your spelling and grammar. That's what I'm about: helping you tell the best story possible. And in order to engage with your story, I have to be invested in it and get your intent. A machine can't do that. It can't invest, can't reflect that emotion, can't have that shared collaboration. 

But again, like Alex said, I’ve heard that ChatGPT is good for research, so that's something that's potentially useful. I'm not an academic or working in nonfiction though. Most of my stuff is fantasy, science fiction, and horror. 

I feel that people want to tell their stories. It might be interesting to stick a prompt into ChatGPT and get a 5,000 word fantasy story, but it's probably going to be quite generic and it's not going to be yours. I haven't experienced that clients want to use it to write a story and send it off to some poor, unsuspecting editor and then release it as their own in any widespread way. On Twitter, there’s been the odd person who’s popped up and said “Here’s how you can use AI to write a fantasy novel” and the immediate response is about a thousand or so fantasy authors piling onto them, calling them a fascist. So the idea of creating a full novel only with AI doesn't seem to appeal to the creative community.

I can understand how AI tools can be useful, but again, it's about curating those tools and using them from a human perspective, not just clicking a button and a fancy novel pops out that you can sell on Amazon. 

Martin: There's always the fear with some writers — usually the ones who haven't finished writing anything — that they're going to write a book and something is going to squeeze them out of the market. If people are putting out AI books, it might mean that they’ll never get published. Whereas, as a book editor, perhaps your biggest concern is that it’s not going to be a good book.

Jon: The industry’s hard. Writing is hard and getting published is really hard. That’s just the reality of it. Having said that, if you want to put a book out, you can do it. 20 years ago, when I started in publishing, there weren't these tools to publish a book on Amazon, slap a cover on it, and sell it for £2. So you can do it. It doesn’t mean you can do it well. 

Martin: I think the general gist is that people do love the process. A lot of the authors that come through Reedsy aren’t thinking “I'm going to become an instant millionaire” and if they do, it’s something we try to disabuse them of fairly quickly. The writing and publishing process is something they should be enjoying. A lot of authors love the idea of working with a professional editor over various rounds, collaborating with a designer, et cetera. If they were just in it for end results, they probably wouldn't be coming to Reedsy. They probably wouldn't be hiring anyone in the first place. 

Jon: They probably wouldn't be a writer if what they want is just a quick turnaround. Because it’s a punishingly slow process and writing is hard and it's never going to get easier. I speak from experience. That fear of the blank page never goes away, but having written is always a good feeling. So the more you do it, the better you get.

Using AI to spark creativity

Martin: To play devil's advocate and extend something that Alex said — the idea of using AI as a really cheap, bad assistant — how do you feel about getting AIs to create first drafts or outlines?

Jon: I think using AI to prompt ideas isn’t necessarily a bad thing. As a bit of an obscure reference, in role-playing games like Dungeons Dragons, idea prompts are a useful tool for game masters. So asking an AI to give you five ideas for what might happen in a fantasy world could be useful. I can see that happening: taking a prompt and running with it to make it yours. You do something with it yourself rather than have the AI fill in all the gaps. 

Martin: There are some apps out there, like Sudowrite, where people just ask the AI “what’s the next sentence.” You can do that forever, but after about two sentences, it stops making sense. But, as you say, it can be a good thing to just throw ideas around and get you unstuck. Maybe a prompt will lead to something interesting in you.

Jon: Perhaps anything that gets the creative process flowing is good. Creating, as a human, is good, so anything that gets that going is fine. 

Alex: I just have a quick thought on that because I agree and disagree. I feel like that spark of creation is such a fundamental human experience, you know?

I'll give you an example. Stephen King, famously, writes by the seat of his pants. He doesn't have huge plot trajectories. He doesn't have a 30 page outline. I'm working with J.D. Barker — one of James Patterson’s top co-authors — on a book right now and he wanted an outline. I hate outlines, but I can do them. I just feel like they sort of hinder my creativity a little bit because when I'm actually writing, I might be writing A, but then I get to B and I'm like, “damn, I can write Z now.” That's fascinating, instead of just going in a linear way. That's the spark of creation and I think while artificial intelligence can be great for inciting that spark — it can be great for prompts and giving you ideas — I still think that takes away from the art of creation itself. 

I love the blank page, and the reason is because I am sort of the arbiter of that page and the story. When I'm staring at a blank page for who knows how long and really want to figure out what I’m going to write about, it suddenly hits me. Maybe I hear a bird chirping and that makes me think of that time in Washington state when I was walking down the desert road and a tiny baby bird ran into a sewer grate. Then, because I saved the bird, I met somebody who had a story to tell, and so on. I’m making this up, but I guess what I'm trying to say is that that’s the spark of creation and it all happened because I was staring at a blank page and I heard a bird chirping in my yard. Artificial intelligence would be robbing me of that experience if I let it. That feeling is so powerful as a creative and I would hate for that to be taken away.

Martin: I wonder if it'll end up standardizing the way we’re expected to do everything. There'll be AI apps to help you structure your books and edit in a certain way, and maybe people will be expected to follow that pattern so that, if need be, you can grab the safety rail of the AI to point you in the right direction. Then, fewer people in the future will even conceive of writing without an outline because it would seem like a weird, outdated way of doing it. 

Jon: But there's no standardization of the creative. In terms of telling stories, drawing pictures, et cetera, there's so much variety out there. Nobody wants to do the same thing. I do think the artistic community is diverse and broad, and that's the joy of it. Standardizing it down to a sort of bland process will start turning it into something of a sausage factory. You'll just get the same thing over and over again. As Alex is talking about, there’s the fear of flatlining or making it a bland thing where all writing becomes the same thing. 

Martin: There is the idea of save the cat: the 15 step story structure that, some would argue, was the worst thing to possibly happen to Hollywood in the sense that it gave studio heads and executives enough of the vocab to force everything to be made the same way. And they think that's why, these days, more things are structured identically. 

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Jon: There's also independent filmmakers and weird artists doing video installations or 60 minute experimental movies over there. It's like the Marvel universe at the moment. I must be five films behind because after however many films, I'm bored because they follow a predictable pattern. If I watch that same thing over and over again, I'll just go seek something different out. 

People want variety, but they also do want the comfort of familiarity. There are things you go to because you know what you're going to get, but that doesn't stop other things that are completely off the wall from being made. 

Q&A Session

Is there any chance KDP or Ingram might ban AI generated text or images? That would definitely affect this ‘get rich quick’ scheme of creating quick content and publishing it. 

Martin: There was the Kindle Gold Rush years ago where Kindle Unlimited, which was fairly new at the time, gave you a percentage of a pot based on how many pages of your books people read. They figured out that certain genres, like romance and mystery thrillers, sold a lot better than other ones. Those readers would read 10 books per week. So you had people creating literally a book every single week. Quality was fairly low, but they knew that if they churned it out they could actually get a bigger amount of that pot. Sometimes what they’d do is publish a new book, but most of that book was actually previous stories from other books. So they keep reusing and reusing content and a lot of people got rich fairly quickly. Eventually, KDP clamped down on it, but their general thing is they don't really care about creativity. They love money. They wouldn't do something that they believe could harm their own industry in the long term. They'll probably try it for a while to see how well it floats, but it's tough to know what they will do. 

Ingram isn’t quite the same as Amazon. The difficulty at this point is that AI's getting better and probably will bypass AI detection tools. If you do detect that it’s written by a machine, all you have to do is to tell ChatGPT to not make it sound like it was. It’ll rewrite it until it could pass the checks because it has access to the same APIs that they would use to determine whether something's a robot or not.

I wouldn't know so much in the images department, but David I bet you do as a designer? 

David: Yeah. I'm curious about this. Is there a way to detect if something is AI generated, and if so, will there need to be some sort of label to AI generated content so that the consumer knows what they're purchasing in the future?

Martin: I think there's a way to watermark things heavily. Maybe there will be some sort of DRM. Do you think the consumer will mind? Maybe if they're paying for the services of a human being?

David: They might. I think there's going to be a tolerance level for the consumer of how much AI generated content they're willing to accept before they get an uneasy human feeling about it. Like, “This doesn't feel right, this isn't resonating with me.” 

I think that's more prominent with words than images though, because modern images, by their nature, have a certain artifice to them. People are used to seeing celebrities on magazine covers knowing that it’s been heavily photoshopped. So I think that would come more from words. Were these words crafted with care and loved by a human, or were they AI generated?

The book industry needs to be careful not to get caught up in this romantic ideal that the general public is as invested. Look at the music industry and Napster. The public didn't care. 

Jon: I think that's fair enough, but the publishing industry learnt from watching the music industry bury its head in the soil about the electronic revolution, so when ebooks started happening, publishing kept an eye on it to be more proactive. It went from no ebooks to always making sure there was simultaneous ebook production today. So I think publishing's well aware, and there's been a lot of talk in The Bookseller and other trade publications, as well as conferences, about AI. So publishing has its eye on the ball. 

Some of my authors have already ditched covers that they found were AI generated.

Martin: These days, especially if you're paying for something that you believe a human being put time and effort into, if it came from a template or was created through AI — or generally not the means that you thought — I wouldn’t be surprised.

Alex: There's that originality again. So many people want to become an influencer these days because you can essentially be an influencer on every single platform. Whether you're an artist or painter or a writer, you can be an influencer. 

I co-authored a book about it which is coming out soon, and what I realized is that so many of the most powerful influencers out there are powerful and have such a following because they're original with their content. They’re authentic. Gen-Z especially respond best to authenticity. AI is not authentic. It's not original. AI is generated. So, sure, there are going to be people who mess around with it, have fun with it; there are going to be a lot of people who can utilize it for their industry, But I think when it comes to creative things like art, music, film, or writing, people are largely going to prefer authenticity over technologically generated… trash, I guess I should say. Because it hasn't achieved what we can do. 

Martin: One generation back, it was all about heavily curated content on platforms like Instagram, and presenting this wonderful facade. As you say, if you look at TikTok, Gen-Z is more about the personal and authentic. Even when they use filters, it's all sort of labeled as a filter. Even when you're putting on a mask, it has to be very obviously and heavily stated. They probably would pick up on something that comes across as bullshit. 

Does anyone have any idea what the state of copyright would be if I were to create something through AI and then assert it as my work

David: No, I don't, and I wonder if there's something in the fine print of AI websites that either extends all copyrights to you or puts limits on that. I don't know what the legality of that is. 

Jon: There are already publishers putting clauses in author contracts to get the author to state that none of the work was created via AI. That's already been quickly put into contracts. Obviously, it depends on the moral stance of the publisher, but I think most publishers are looking to make sure that what they get is not some sort of cobbled together amalgamation of all books written on a certain subject.

Martin: Yeah, I think the thing that everyone's pointing out is that no major publishing company is currently allowing AI generated content because of potential issues. I think most apps these days, in their terms of use, say that you cannot use it for commercial purposes. The Photoshop Beta I showed doesn't allow that. But if nobody could detect it, does that matter?

David: Well, then you’re taking something and you're altering it. I guess it all depends if you're using something that's coming straight from this AI generation, which to my experience was not ready. It needed refinement. 

Jon: It's a sort of Blade Runner question, isn't it? What's the difference between a replicant and a human? And we're definitely not at that point where we can’t tell whether Harrison Ford is one or the other. Certainly, the AI images I've been seeing on social media have all had this certain look to them. I don’t know how to describe it. It's either the lighting or something else that makes you say “Yep, that’s AI” almost immediately. I’m not a designer but I think it has a fairly distinct look. Also they can't do hands, can they?

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Has there been any talk at Reedsy about requiring authors to disclose reliance on AI?

Martin: It may be something that we will request our professionals from disclosing at some point, just so that there’s transparency. In terms of getting authors to disclose, I think that probably won't be as big of a thing because if they're willing to pay for freelancers’ services, I'm assuming money's still green. 

Does altering AI art follow the same rules as artists using reference photos?

Martin: As David said, you can get a license for a piece of clip art and alter it in order to create a new design. So I think these new rules at some point will have to be written about how much one has to change something before it becomes yours. The whole idea of copyright and ownership is something that's yet to be determined. 

AI auditing sounds like a new job career about to burst.

Martin: That's probably going to be really dull, but it's going to be a real job. Or you just want to program an AI to do that for you. But certainly, AI prompt engineering is now a skill that a lot of people have been working on for ages. 

Before we log off, do any of you have any final thoughts or sentiments about what the future holds for the creative industry you work in in this brave new world? 

David: For me, in the past, if I received a request for a book with a specific image and they were being very prescriptive about how a character should look, I would usually respond that I’m not an illustrator. I can do very graphic illustrations, but if you want realistic ones, they might want to look for actual illustrators. I can then take an illustrator's work and with typography, create a cover.

Now, with AI, that can give me a starting point image. For some genres, specifically fantasy where they might want knights and dragons — this is my own integrity — if I think I can use AI as a starting point and still deliver a cover with my standard of quality, I might create an offer for those requests. 

Martin: One of the things that you could do as a designer is to use those tools whenever you're sending an offer where it might be too laborious to actually create mock-ups or concept art. You could probably whip one up very soon in just a few minutes and use those mock-ups to add value to your offer and show what you have in mind. It could be a visual demonstration that could cut off some time.

Alex, where do you see the future for yourself? 

Alex: I'd liken it to an example. We're all old enough to remember the time when we could call customer service and reach a human being. That was the golden era, when something could go wrong and you could call and talk to a human to help you fix it. Now, especially with organizations like the IRS, everything's automated. You just get bounced back and forth between prompts in an infinite loop of aggravation.

AI can do that for creative outflow, for creative thought, and the art of creation itself. I think the job now is for the companies creating this artificial intelligence to create safeguards to prevent it from going to that extreme. That's where I'm at. 

Martin: Yeah, it'd be interesting to see who will step up and take that role. Whoever's putting the books out or distributing the content will have to have a hand in that. 

Jon, any last thoughts?

Jon: Publishing's been in a state of chaotic flux ever since I've worked there. Colleagues and friends were proclaiming the death of print books with the ebook, but we're still telling each other stories and words are just as valuable as they've ever been. I think stories are safe and people want that human connection. 

Like you said, there's going to have to be some moral considerations somewhere down the line and I hope and think that the majority of publishers are quite moral people. That's going to come back to bite me, isn't it? But, you know, they're about curating human stories and original content, I think that's going to continue. 

We might have to consider different things, like Alex said, but I think publishing's not going to bury its head in the sand, hoping it will go away. It'll be interesting to see how publishing engages with it, and I just hope we engage with it on a sensible level that can make things easier in some areas, but also protect creative human endeavor in other areas.

Martin: Here’s to hoping calmer heads will prevail. 

Thank you all for joining us. This has been a really good discussion. We've had a lot of interest in the chat and no doubt we'll revisit this topic. We'll probably come back in a year's time and wonder at how naive and reactionary we were. David, Alex, Jon, thank you for your time. 

Catch you next time! Bye.



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