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Literary Groups Celebrate As Europe’s Artificial Intelligence Act Nears Law: Self-Publishing News Podcast With Dan Holloway

Literary Groups Celebrate as Europe’s Artificial Intelligence Act Nears Law: Self-Publishing News Podcast with Dan Holloway

In this episode of ALLi‘s Self-Publishing News Podcast, Dan Holloway celebrates a pivotal moment for the publishing industry with the passage of Europe's Artificial Intelligence Act, a landmark legislation requiring transparency in the training of generative AI platforms, including the disclosure of works used in their development. This act, widely welcomed by publishers, marks a significant step in regulating AI's role in creative industries. Dan also revisits the London Book Fair, highlighting the Selfies Awards and the achievements of ALLi authors. He also explores various AI-related topics, including the implications of AI in legal practices and literary translation. Dan also addresses the underrepresentation of indie authors in a report on the UK publishing industry's economic impact.

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Listen to Self-Publishing News: Artificial Intelligence Act

On the Self-Publishing News podcast with @agnieszkasshoes, literary groups celebrate a pivotal moment for the publishing industry with the near passage of Europe's Artificial Intelligence Act. Click To Tweet

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About the Host

Dan Holloway is a novelist, poet, and spoken word artist. He is the MC of the performance arts show The New Libertines, He competed at the National Poetry Slam final at the Royal Albert Hall. His latest collection, The Transparency of Sutures, is available on Kindle.

Read the Transcripts to Self-Publishing News: Artificial Intelligence Act

Dan Holloway: Hello, and welcome to another self-publishing news week. I am back in Oxford this week after a fabulous Monday last week spent at the Writers Summit preceding London Book Fair.

ALLi Member Success at the Selfies Awards

You will have heard all sorts of fabulous stories coming out of London Book Fair last week. We looked at the Selfies Awards in particular, and success for ALLi's authors at the Selfies Awards. Congratulations again to Joanna Penn, who won the non-fiction award for her fabulous book Pilgrimage, and to Julia Boggio, whose Shooters won the fiction category.

Again, congratulations to Jill Michelle Smith and Jennifer Watson whose Extraordinary Extinct Prehistoric Minibeasts: A First Guide to Fossils won the children's fiction book of the year.

A note to everyone out there, do make sure that you consider entering for next year's Selfies and you could be part of that great event at London Book Fair.

Attorney Suspended for Using AI

So, I will start the actual news for the week with something that didn't make the news column but nonetheless made me chuckle, and I'm sure would make those of you who enjoy being sceptical about artificial intelligence chuckle too, and that is the story of attorney Thomas Grant Newsome, who has been suspended from practicing by the District Court for the Middle District of Florida, and he has been suspended for a year, after which he’ll have to reapply to become a practicing attorney again. He has been suspended after the court realized that several of the cases he had filed were, as they put it, totally fabricated, and it seems the reason they were totally fabricated is that, as the article puts it, he may have used AI to help him with his filings.

So, there is a salutary tale there about the use of AI and how far AI hallucinations can go, and if you are an attorney or doing other sorts of important stuff, then maybe best, just for the moment, not to use AI but actually to do your good old-fashioned legwork and write the thing yourself.

EU’s AI Act Moves into Final Stage

So, talking of AI, it has been a massive week for AI and the publishing industry because this week, finally, The European Union's AI Act has passed the last stage that it needs to in the process of becoming law, and this has been widely welcomed by publishers everywhere.

What this does, as I'm sure you'll be familiar with me saying by now, is it requires everyone who, it trains generative AI platforms to be transparent about the way they train those platforms and the works they train them on.

That means that if your work has been used to train an AI platform, you have a right to be told about it.

One of the reasons, although this may seem obviously a pretty basic standard, that sort of level of transparency you would hope you could take for granted, but one of the reasons that it has been so widely heralded by those who are inside the publishing industry is that this was a decision that the European Union took against the wishes of the tech industry.

So, there was very heavy tech industry lobbying saying, it's all right, we can regulate ourselves, we don't need legislation to do it for us, and the European Union pushed back and said, no, actually we think you do, and furthermore, that legislation is going to be quite, not draconian, but quite far reaching. It's going to mean that you can't do certain things and you have to tell people when you are doing certain things.

So, it was seen very much as a watershed moment in the fight back of the creative industries against big tech.

Translators Advised to Stay Away from AI

Other AI stories to make the news this week includes something that we haven't talked about that much, which is translation.

So, translation feels like it's one of the oldest use cases for AI. Google Translate has been doing Google Translate things for many years with varying degrees of success, but it's not been something we've generally heard about as a threat to creative living in the way that we've been used to hearing stories about how artists, voice artists, cover artists, writers, musicians are worried for their living.

The first time we got a real inkling of the danger that it posed, that AI posed, to jobs in the business of translation was when Duolingo caused a massive outcry amongst its fans and users by sacking a load of staff and replacing them with AI translation.

But last week the European Council of Literary Translators was in the news, and it was in the news for recommending that its members don't translate AI-generated text.

It's a move for solidarity in the creative professions that feels like it's quite nice to see, quite rarely seen. They do say at the same time that they believe translation is a human art, and that AI translation doesn't quite capture that humanity. That feels, as those of you who have followed my columns and podcasts over the years will know, that feels somewhat, I don't want to say naïve, but I do want to say naïve. Let's just put it as I did in the column that people who say that it's okay because this aspect of human creativity will remain human, and AI can't ever replace it. People who tend to go down that route, their statements don't tend to age so well, let's say.

So, we will see whether that's the case with AI translation. I certainly know that, for me, a great translator can do amazing things to transform my experience of reading works in translation. So, I am, as many of you will know, a massive fan of Haruki Murakami, and those of you who know Murakami's work will know that there's almost as much of a fandom for different translators of Murakami's work as there is for Murakami himself, and people are very convinced that this demonstrates the value of the human translator. So, I'm highly on board with the amazing stuff that translators can do. Whether that continues to be the case in the face of developing AI or not, that I would say is more moot.

Publishers Association Industry Report Fails to Mention Indie Authors

Another thing that is moot is how much money the indie author scene contributes to the publishing industry in the UK.

It is moot, despite the fact that last week we saw the launch of a report from the Publishers Association, which said that the publishing industry was worth £11 billion to the UK economy, and outlined all sorts of ways in which it looked set to grow that amount by 50 percent over the coming decade. Not only £11 billion pounds, but 84,000 jobs were directly attributable to the publishing industry.

Interesting figures. No doubt you will have guessed where this is going.

There is nothing in the report that indicates what percentage of that is attributable to self-published authors and our onward benefits to the distribution chain. So, whether it's editors, cover designers, printers, shops, the people who do the catering at the literary events we do, all these kinds of things. There's no indication of how much we contribute to all that, and the reason there is no indication of how much we contribute is that, from what I can see, there is no explicit research that has been done as part of this report on our impact on the economy.

This very much appears to have been compiled from traditional publishers. A large amount of it, of course, which will be no surprise, comes from the academic publishing sector, which is even bigger than we might often imagine think of as the publishing sector. So, the big five companies, they pale in insignificance when it comes to comparisons to companies like Read Elsevier and even my own local press, Oxford University Press.

It is great to see those companies represented and some of the great work they do represented. It's slightly frustrating to see no mention of indie authors.

There's quite a long methodology section. That methodology section talks about self-employment and how this takes account of self-employment. I have a feeling they mean freelance workers in the with traditional publishing houses, because they also say the indirect impact on the economy that publishing activity has through stream supply chains was investigated. This is based on the costs or inputs of the publishing sector, such as printing or, here we go, payments to the authors themselves. Yeah, we are one of those, it seems, unfortunate costs of the publishing industry. You might say that is an unfortunate wording by the publishing industry. It feels slightly frustrating to be thought of in this way and presented in that way, represented in that way.

I have asked the Publishers Association for clarification on whether they actually got any input from indie authors or about indie authors, and whether they could break that down or intend to break it down in the future.

I'll add a little coda to this piece if they get back to me in time for publication of this podcast, and I'll make sure that something is put in the description to say that they did indeed get back to me and what it is they said, but at the time of recording, I haven't heard back from them.

It would be really great if more surveys of figures to do with the publishing industry recognized that we were indeed part of the publishing industry, and not just, how was it they put it, costs or inputs of the publishing sector.

With that, I will leave all of you fabulous costs and inputs, otherwise known as authors, for another week.

I will speak to you again this time next week. Have a lovely week. Enjoy your Easter, and I will speak to you again soon. Thank you.

Author: Howard Lovy

Howard Lovy is a novelist, nonfiction author, developmental book editor, and journalist. He is also the news and podcast producer for the Alliance of Independent Authors. You can learn more about him at https://howardlovy.com/


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