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Fairly Trained Certifies First Ethically Trained Large Language Model: Self-Publishing News Podcast With Dan Holloway

Fairly Trained Certifies First Ethically Trained Large Language Model: Self-Publishing News Podcast with Dan Holloway

In this episode of the Self-Publishing News Podcast, Dan Holloway brings attention to Fairly Trained, the first platform to certify ethically trained large language models, highlighting a major advancement in AI ethics. Dan also explores HarperCollins' innovative environmental efforts in reducing paper usage through font changes and the carbon footprint disparities between print and audiobooks. Additionally, he discusses the new partnership between Draft2Digital and the social reading app Fable, a development that offers fresh opportunities for authors to connect with readers.

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Listen to Self-Publishing News: Fairly Trained

On the Self-Publishing News podcast, @agnieszkasshoes brings attention to @fairlytrained, the first platform to certify ethically trained large language models. 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: Fairly Trained

Dan Holloway: Hello and welcome to another self-publishing news podcast from here in Oxford on a very stormy day. We've had a weekend of storms. Let's see if the news is as stormy as that has been.

Changing Font in Print Books Saves 5,000 Trees

Here's a way to segue in. So, one of the things that we've noticed over the last weekend with Storm Kathleen, has been the downing of a number of trees, which leads me perfectly on to the question of the environmental impact of the publishing industry.

So, one of the really interesting things I came across on LinkedIn was a story that HarperCollins had been running some experiments about fonts, and it seems that what they have managed to do is they have managed to save, I think it was something like 5,000 trees, by changing the font size, or not the font size, but the actual font that they use in a number of their books.

Traditionally, they have used the font, Bembo, and they have changed this to my favourite font, which is the one that I use in my paperbacks, which is Garamond Pro. As a result, they have been able to get considerably more words on a line, and words on a page, and as a result, they have saved, I think they used the example of their Bible printing division, have managed to save something like 200 pages per Bible, and that has led them to save, I think they said, a total of something like 100 million pages over the course of a year, and that in turn has led to the saving of several thousand forests. So, fascinating little insight into the things we can do to lower our environmental impact.

Of course, as we are very aware of the cost of self-publishing and in particular, the cost of print on demand, the idea that we could save a significant number of pages will help us to make our books more competitive.

Storytel Report Reveals Environmental Impact of Audiobooks

I also mentioned audiobooks. Audiobooks are one of those things we don't really hear much about when it comes to environmental impact. We hear very little, in fact, about digital books in general. So, it was really interesting to read the 2023 report from Storytel, which came out, and Storytel, obviously, it's the big subscription service that comes out of Sweden.

They also do print books, so it's really interesting they have got some comparisons between the environmental impact of their print books and their audiobooks. The raw figures are that a print book produces for them 344 grams of carbon. An hour of listening to an audio book costs 2.3 grams, which take a relatively long audiobook, 10 hours, that's still 15 times less carbon for an audiobook than there is for a print book.

How that carbon is broken down, also really interesting. For print books, as you would imagine, a lot of it comes from the paper. So, 43 percent comes from the production of the paper. A further 11 percent comes from the printing process, and the largest contributing factor, I don't think this is any surprise, is transportation.

Digital books, this is really interesting, because we think of digital as being really data intensive. In particular, we've talked a lot about AI and blockchain and the fact that they are really data intensive technologies. We think of streaming as being really data intensive, I think, because we think of video services like Netflix and increasing high definition. So, 4k streaming, we know it's massive amounts of data, it's really energy intensive.

But for audiobooks, it seems it's a really interesting set of figures. So, 11 percent of the 23 grams of carbon per 10 hours of listening comes from Storytel's servers. So, the servers where the data are stored. Storytel use Google cloud, and they explain that one of the reasons they do that is because of Google's zero carbon by 2030 pledge. 34 percent comes from transmitting the data, but a whopping 55 percent of it comes from the devices that are receiving the data.

That's a really interesting contrast for those of us thinking about the environmental impact of digital and where that environmental impact is particularly intensive. So, it seems that it's particularly intensive in the devices that people are listening to our work on.

Fairy Trained Announces Certification of First Ethically Trained AI Platform

Continuing the theme of ethics, you will remember that a little while ago I talked about the launch of Fairly Trained. So, Fairly Trained is a platform whose name is an obvious pun on fair trade, which obviously is a certification organization that suppliers do things ethically, or businesses do things ethically with their producers. Fairly Trained seeks to do something similar with AI, it seeks to certify that large generative AI platforms have been trained on copyright free material, or have been trained in a way that is totally transparent and where copyrighted material is both declared and has been paid for.

I was very sceptical as to whether there would be any use cases for this because obviously it's expensive to do things ethically, and I'm not wholly convinced that the end users of such products will always be aware of the ethical implications of what they're doing.

So, obviously as a community, we as writers are very aware of copyright issues. We're aware of the impact that training AI on copyright material has. There's yet to be a really big public awareness drive on the impact of what it does to the creative industries to train things on copyrighted material without transparency and without compensation, in the way that there has been a lot said in the public about paying suppliers across the world a fair wage for producing the food that we eat.

So, that's something that made me sceptical about whether anyone would actually be interested in getting certified or take any notice of certification. It seems they have.

Just recently we have seen the first certification of an ethically trained AI platform, and that AI platform is called KL3M. It's a platform from 273 Ventures, and what's really interesting is they are a legal tech company. I say that's really interesting because this actually seems to be a really fascinating use case. Legal tech is an area where it's what it says, there are lots of lawyers, and lawyers are obviously going to be particularly interested. They have a professional interest in not necessarily doing things ethically, but in doing things in the legally correct manner. They're very risk averse. They might be very aware of the legal risks of doing things incorrectly. So, this whole angle of compliance and risk, rather than necessarily ethics, is one where there probably is a lot of potential for companies who want to protect themselves and show that they have taken steps to avoid doing things which courts might at some point, if they ever do, decide that there's something wrong with it.

If they were to take action, then there would be a way of saying, look, I did the very best I could. I have a certification to prove it.

It might be that this is sufficient to prove the concept of certification for long enough that public awareness around the issue grows. Really interesting development to see.

Draft2Digital Partners with Fable

Talking of interesting developments, I will finish with news from our friends at Draft2Digital, who have just announced that they are partnering with the social reading app Fable. So, Fable runs social reading, as I say, apps. It runs online book clubs. Online book clubs are really interesting to us as writers, as all book clubs are, because if our book is being discussed in a book club, it's being discussed by lots of people. If it's being discussed by lots of people, it's being bought by lots of people. So, one book club, many sales.

Fable has 25,000 such book clubs that it hosts. Many of them are hosted by influencers from the likes of BookTok, BookTube, who promote books on their channels that are then discussed in the book clubs.

Fable also has an in-app store. That means that people who participate in book clubs can buy the book in the app before they then go on to discuss it. They don't have to, but nonetheless, presumably if they are discussing the book in the book club, then they've bought it somewhere.

Draft2Digital will make books available through the Fable app for anyone who opts in if you use Draft2Digital in order to distribute your work.

One of the things that's coming as a result of this partnership is it looks like authors are going to be able to start running their own book clubs and meet the author book club. So, there is the opportunity to use this really popular social reading app to host your own book clubs and draw people together around your book, get conversations started, get word of mouth out.

Always interesting to see innovations like that and partnerships like that, which bring new opportunities for us to get our books out to numbers of readers at the same time. So, thank you to the people at D2D for bringing my attention to that. I look forward to speaking to you all from a hopefully no more deforested Oxford next week.

Thank you.

Author: Howard Lovy

Howard Lovy is an author, book editor, and journalist. He is also the Content and Communications Manager for the Alliance of Independent Authors, where he hosts and produces podcasts and keeps the blog updated. You can find more of his work at https://howardlovy.com/

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