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AI statement

I’ve complained that various publishing industry groups have been slow to respond to recent developments in AI, like LLMs. Over the last week, I’ve been tinkering with a series of “belief” statements that other industry folks could sign onto. I’m finally ready to start sharing a draft. Feedback welcome, but if you are here to discourage, move along. Not interested in a fight.


Where We Stand on AI in Publishing

We believe that AI technologies will likely create significant breakthroughs in a wide range of fields, but that those gains should be earned through the ethical use and acquisition of data.

We believe that “fair use” exceptions (and similar exceptions in other countries) with regards to authors’, artists’, translators’, and narrators’ creative output should not apply to the training of AI technologies, such as LLMs, and that explicit consent to use those works should be required.

We believe that the increased speed of progress achieved by acquiring AI training data without consent is not an adequate or legitimate excuse to continue employing those practices.

We believe that AI technologies also have the potential to create significant harm and that to help mitigate some of that damage, the companies producing these tools should be required to provide easily-available, inexpensive (or subsidized), and reliable detection tools.

We believe that detection and detection-avoidance will be locked in a never-ending struggle similar to that seen in computer virus and anti-virus development, but that it is critically important that detection not continue to be downplayed or treated as a lesser priority than the development of new or improved LLMs.

We believe that publishers do not have the right to use contracted works in the training of AI technologies without contracts that have clauses explicitly granting those rights.

We believe that submitting a work for consideration does not entitle a publisher, agent, or the submission software developers to use it in the training of AI technologies.

We believe that publishers or agents that utilize AI in the evaluation of submitted works should indicate that in their submission guidelines.

We believe that publishers or agents should clearly state their position on AI or AI-assisted works in their submission guidelines.

We believe that publishers should make reasonable efforts to prevent third-party use of contracted works as training data for AI technologies.

We believe that authors should acknowledge that there are limits to what a publisher can do to prevent the use of their work as training data by a third party that does not respect their right to say “no.”

We believe that the companies and individuals sourcing data for the training of AI technologies should be transparent about their methods of data acquisition, clearly identify the user-agents of all data scraping tools, and honor robots.txt and other standard bot-blocking technologies.

We believe that copyright holders should be able to request the removal of their works from databases that have been created from digital or analog sources without their consent.

We believe that the community should not be disrespectful of people who choose to use AI tools for their own entertainment or productive purposes.

We believe that individuals using AI tools should be transparent about its involvement in their process when those works are shared, distributed, or made otherwise available to a third party.

We believe that publishing contracts should include statements regarding all parties’ use, intended use, or decision not to use AI in the development of the work.

We believe that authors should have the right to decline the use of AI-generated or -assisted cover art or audiobooks on previously contracted works.

We believe that individuals using AI tools should be respectful of publishers, booksellers, editors, and readers that do not wish to engage with AI-generated or -assisted works.

We believe that publishers and booksellers should clearly label works generated by or with the assistance of AI tools as a form of transparency to their customers.

We believe that copyright should not be extended to generated works.

We believe that governments should craft meaningful legislation that both protects the rights of individuals, promotes the promise of this technology, and specifies consequences for those who seek to abuse it.

We believe that governments should be seeking advice on this legislation from a considerably wider range of people than just those who profit from this technology.


We believe that publishers and agents need to recognize that the present state of detection tools for generated art and text is capable of false positives and false negatives and should not be relied upon as the sole source of determination.


Some notes in response to comments:

AI-generated and -assisted are not specifically defined due to the fact that the technology is evolving and any definition would likely create loopholes. Broad terms are meant to encourage transparency and allow individual parties to determine whether or not such uses cross their individual lines. For example, one’s attitude towards AI-assisted research may be different for non-fiction vs. fiction.

In suggesting that AI developers should be required to provide reliable detection tools and that by emphasizing that detection should be a priority, we are stating that the people best equipped to understand and tackle the problem of detection–which can be tackled in several different ways–are the ones developing the AI tools that generate the output. (Some have even suggested that all output should be saved for detection purposes, but we’re not qualified to tell them how to solve the problem.) It’s a problem of the same scale (or even more complex) as generation. Instead, industry professionals have been quoted saying things like “get used to it” and have placed insufficient effort into addressing the problems they are creating. The pricing concern is to make sure that anyone can access it. It’s going to impact more than just the publishing world.

The statement on fair use has been amended to include equivalents in other countries since it is not an international standard. There are still court cases pending in the US that debate that fair use even applies in training data. We’re saying that we don’t think it should. We are not advocating the end of fair use, just saying it shouldn’t apply in this specific case. Anyone who says that the end of fair use protection for the data means the end of this technology is lying. There are already vendors producing “ethically-sourced” datasets. It may slow data acquisition and by extension development of some tools, but it does not end it.

Health Update

For the last couple of weeks, I’ve been dealing with what I’ve been calling “kidney stones.” The truth of the matter is a bit more complicated than that. The story starts over eight years ago, just after having my heart attack. The day I returned home from the hospital, I started feeling an intense pain that landed me back in the emergency room of our local hospital. That turned out to be an impassable kidney stone. Due to my health and the volume of blood thinners I was on, they couldn’t take the standard shockwave approach to dealing with it. When they tried alternatives, the amount of blood was enough to cut the procedure short and they ended up placing a stent so that I would no longer require the pain medications (which they were growing concerned about causing other problems) or a hospital stay. The plan was to come back and deal with it when I was well enough to do so.

Having received two stents in my heart the week before, I made an incorrect assumption that there wasn’t an expiration date on the stent they placed. (Very stupid.) I was no longer in pain and my heart issues took priority. The doctor who had installed the stent was out of network. I kept meaning to find a new urologist, but stupidly didn’t and I’m paying for that now. The stone rarely came up as more than medical history in the years between. I’ve remained on the blood thinners since and wasn’t comfortable with the thought of going off them for another procedure. (I’ve been off them for two weeks now and it’s causing me considerable stress, but not having this dealt with was… stupid. See a trend here?)

This type of stent, however, is meant to be temporary. Eventually, it failed, breaking into many unpassable pieces. My body responded as it should, by attacking it, leading each piece to become calcified with new stones. The stone it had been holding at bay was also eventually released. When I went to the hospital at the start of the month, I thought it was just that one stone, but it was more like an asteroid field of debris scattered between my kidney and bladder. The scan they showed me was lit up like a Christmas tree.

I had to spend several days in the hospital for pain management while they waited for the blood thinners to leave my body. I’m resistant to most pain medication, so it took a bit of time to find something that worked effectively and then they had to balance it with anti-nausea treatments to keep me from being sick. After a few days, they attempted the first procedure–to clear the bladder and remove the larger pieces of stent, including one that was now wedged between the two–and that was largely successful. I went home the next day to recover.

The second procedure, a week later, was anticipated to be significantly more challenging. The goal was to clear my kidney of what remained, but unfortunately they only managed to get about 70% of the material before having to stop and place a new stent to hold what remained at bay. I left the hospital later that day groggy and not really understanding much of what transpired. I’m still finding out little details.

Both procedures involved heading in (not saying how, but I was mercifully unconscious) with lasers to break up materials and vacuum it out. That makes two years in a row where I’ve had people shooting lasers inside my body in January. It’s a habit I hope to break.

Apparently we’ve reached the point where shockwave therapy is back on the table as an option. This causes a fair amount of internal bleeding, so it’s likely I’ll be pulled from the blood thinners again. A normal person with just a plain old stone would have started here and been done, so it feels like the worst might be over. I do still have the new stent–which comes with its own special, but predictable, type of pain–but that can be removed after the shockwave has broken up what remains. At this point, I’m told that I need to heal. The next session hasn’t been scheduled yet and could be weeks away.

If that wasn’t enough, I was informed this morning that they also noticed a cyst in my kidney. Apparently these are quite common, so I’ve been told not to worry about it. Easier said than done, but it’s good to know they are on top of things and will be monitoring the situation.

This latest medical saga isn’t done, but at least there’s no more hospital stays with their infernal IV lines and needles in my immediate future. (I neglected to mention that my IV line was accidentally ripped out when they were moving me back to my hospital bed after the first procedure. By some miracle, my arm ended in exactly the perfect position for the needle to pull out without ripping me to shreds. I’d like to thank the universe for that one small mercy it showed me. When it happened there were audible gasps in the room and I couldn’t bring myself to look until a stunned nurse said there was no blood.)

Quick Health Update

If you’ve been trying to get in touch with me, you should probably know that I’ve been in the hospital much of the last week. In short, kidney stones, but the full story is much more complicated and ugly explanation that spans eight years of medical issues. The good news is that I’m in considerably less pain. I do, however, have another procedure scheduled for next week and the possibility of needing a third not long after that.

I’ll still be working, but expect my schedule to be erratic for a bit. In-progress updates about medical stuff will be on Twitter if you want to follow there.

Life in the time of Covid-19 as someone of high risk


Almost everyone is effected by the Covid-19 pandemic in some way. Here in NJ, we’ve been in lockdown for over two weeks. In that time, NJ has become the second-most infected state in the country. Both my wife and my youngest son (a high school student) have been working from home. My oldest son works at a bank, which has thankfully transitioned to drive-thru only service. We have seen our parents, siblings, nieces, or nephews since all this started. I have extended family here and abroad that have been exposed to C19 and I worry about them.

Given my medical history, I’m considered a high-risk. Should I contract the virus, the odds of it becoming life-threatening are significantly worse. I try not to think about this too much, but it’s always there. Knowing what friends in China and the Seattle area went through ahead of us, I started my emergency food shopping earlier than most and have only ventured out to resupply once. I can’t describe how stressful that trip was and how particularly irritated I am by facemask-wearing individuals who think the 6ft rules don’t apply to them. (While I was there, the announced that they were adopting elderly and high-risk only shopping times for high risk individuals. They should be restricting pickup and delivery services to those groups too, but aren’t.)

Given that my job is pretty much run out of my house, the daily routine is only changed by the presence of others–who largely keep to themselves during “work” hours–and stress. I try to minimize the number of times I look at the news and social media. It just makes me angry or depressed, often both. There have been cleaning sprees and I’ve decided to wage war on the ever-encroaching thorn bushes and honeysuckle that have been reclaiming many square feet of our backyard. You can call these coping mechanisms.

On some days work is… difficult. I had been keeping the response time for our slush pile to 24 hours or less, but around Wednesday, I just burned out and didn’t look again until this morning. I have acceptance letters to send, an editorial and introduction to write, some stories to edit, and a couple of ebooks to format. I don’t seem to have the energy for any of it at the moment. Maybe I need to go play a videogame, clean some more, or just listen to some music (though a number of people in the house would just hate that).

I’m used to not seeing a lot of people for extended periods of time, but I figure I’ll eventually feel like doing it again, particularly as more and more of the conventions I had planned to attend this year have canceled or rescheduled. To combat this encroaching isolation, I’m trying to set up a few online video panels for April. I expect them to be four-person panels, about an hour each, scattered around the month. They will be free, but since the hosting services have participant limits (unless you are wealthy), there will be limits on who can participate through the built in chatroom. Fortunately, it looks like we can stream it simultaneously to our YouTube channel, so any people beyond that limit will be able to watch there. The idea is to keep it casual and fun. We all need that right now.

So, yeah, a bit stressful, with this sword hanging over me. It’s not the first time I’ve had one over my head though and practice doesn’t make it easier. It does give some perspective though. We’re healthy right now. That’s the thing I have to focus on. Just have to do what is in our control to stay that way. I wish you all the best of luck in the weeks and months ahead. Stay safe.

ICFA – Trip canceled

Due to my cardiac issues, I am currently considered a high risk if exposed to Covid-19. The CDC has recently posted a recommendation that such individuals avoid travel and crowds. My doctors have expressed similar thoughts. As much as I was looking forward to attending ICFA in Orlando next week, I’ve decided to follow their advice and cancel my trip.

The number of cases in NJ is still quite low, but there has been one just a town away. Several friends are in places that have it far worse. I wish them (and you) all the best. Keep safe. Better caution than risk with something like this.

Post Surgery Update

It’s been nearly a week and a half since surgery and things are going much better now. I’ve finally managed to sleep through the night (once) and the incision site is healing nicely. General pain levels are down, but still a presence. (Mostly dull. It can get sharper, but I’m learning not to do things or to stop before that can become a problem.) My surgeon has lifted a few of the restrictions and my device continues to function properly.

There’s still a good bit of swelling on the left side of my chest, which I am told is caused by pooled blood. There’s also extensive bruising on my chest and left arm, both of which have added to the discomfort. Weight and movement restrictions will remain on my left arm for a few more weeks. This is to keep me from accidentally pulling the lead (and screw) out of my heart–both of which would be obviously bad. Pain prevents me from even considering those motions.

This procedure was more complicated than the original implantation, but I had been lead to believe that the recovery would be about the same. They were wrong about that. This was worse. It took much longer for me to get back to doing simple things like using a cell phone or computer. Movement caused pain. Pain caused tension. Tension caused new pain in different places. I ended up watching a lot of TV this time instead and was rarely comfortable. I’m so happy that the worst of that is over.

Thank you to everyone that has been writing and wishing me well. I haven’t been in the best of shape to respond to all of you, but know I’ve seen and appreciated your kind words.

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